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Saudade

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Six days and seven nights I mourned over him
and would not allow him to be buried
until a maggot fell out of his nose.
I was terrified by his appearance,
I began to fear death, and so roam the wilderness.
- Gilgamesh, Epic of Gilgamesh


Everything thundered around them as the labyrinth like maze began to fall apart. Pain lanced through her arm whenever she moved it. With little left of BB’s world, Gudako found herself running in the direction that they had found their opposition.

Her senses were alert.

Something was left.

It was as though the gods themselves were tearing apart the world before them. Every step was dangerous in the hallways. The rooms were hardly better with the floor broken and burned in places from the battle they had gotten into not too long ago. They had defeated the beast in this singularity by a slim margin. As it were, her arm left little doubt that it was broken and the others were tired and damaged as well. It only made sense that they would be running for the exit and the rayshift location that Da Vinci had communicated to them.

They had been running all over this place, but here…

Her steps faltered before a grand doorway. Carved upon it where countless symbols. A giant sun with a large keyhole was its glorious version of a handle.
Compared to the dim and almost grim looking surroundings, something about this place in particular had called her to a halt. It was not far from here that they had run into their original enemy, the woman who called herself BB. Upon seeing her, Gilgamesh had leaped forward, leaving no time for conversation or reason. The great and arrogant king had dropped his smirking and laughing demeanor, opting for something more akin to the alters on her team. Hatred. Violence for violence’s sake.

She needed to get back to reprimand him. It would make sense to leave immediate with the singularity falling apart…

It would, but there was a nagging feeling.

After so many singularities and magic battles, she was developing somewhat of a knack for sensing opponents and magic.

And damn, but that doorway was leading to something with an obnoxious amount of power behind it. What had it been that BB had been hiding so zealously? Was this how the singularity had come to pass? Was the ruling of this region by BB not the cause?

“Master!” Jeanne called after her, waving frantically. “We need to leave. This singularity is over!”

“There’s something over here!”

The king appeared from the other end of the hallway, his hair drooping as he rushed her direction. His eyes were locked on her as she motioned at the door, wasting no time to reach her side.

“There you are,” Gudako smiled faintly as he approached. “I was beginning to think-“

“Have you entered there?”

Gudako looked towards the door a moment before returning her gaze to the king. He was still acting peculiar, like he was an alter rather than the actual king of Uruk. At the moment, his face looked so much like that of the Caster version of himself, eyeing the door as though to sense what lie beyond.

Not that he would fail in that regard.

The power that was emanating from that room was almost calling out for someone or something. Its lure was so easy to feel from this point. Their enemies had probably been blocking the power from leaking all this time.

“You sense it too, don’t you?” Gudako motioned at the door. “I think BB was-“

“You need to leave. Take the woman with you,” Gilgamesh told her simply, moving towards the door with that tension thick at his heels. “Leave me here.”

Leave him? Gudako went to speak but faltered.

One second- there were thick golden doors that blocked off the view from anything and everything beyond it, the next- there was a cloud of dust. The golden ripples of the illustrious Gates of Babylon filled the air around the king as he stepped over the wreckage and into the swirling clouds of debris.

“Do not be dead,” she heard the king threaten to the nothingness.

An arm wrapped around her before Gudako could think to follow after the king.

“Master, stay behind me while Gilgamesh investigates,” Jeanne commanded, blocking her from whatever would come barreling through the door. The woman leaned against her, breathing hard as Gudako debated arguing with her. With her arm aching, it was all Gudako could do to keep from commanding Gilgamesh come back and they return another day. They weren’t ready for another fight. They had hardly managed as they were and they all knew it.

If something else was keeping this singularity open, then maybe they could return. If not, then maybe whatever it was simply would die.

Her heart pounded in her ears as she stared at the doorway, holding on for what was to come. Yet, there was nothing that was coming though.

She could only stare around Jeanne’s grip, cradling her wounded arm to her chest as the dust settled. Unlike her, Jeanne was ready. Her weapon was in hand, ready to go, yet they heard nothing. They saw nothing, even as a stairwell slowly came into fruition from the spiraling clouds of dust.

They waited, listening.

“I wish we had Raikou with us still,” Gudako murmured. “She could have gone to support Gilgamesh.”

“Would you like me to follow after the king while you return?”

Shaking her head, she leaned against the servant a little more. “That doesn’t seem wise. If you need a command spell used, you’d both be in trouble. We’ll give him another minute and then follow after him.”

Golden boots appeared on the steps after a moment, The king’s arms full of something wrapped within the crimson cloth he normally kept beneath his armor. At the site of them both, he hesitated, shaking his head.

“We need to leave immediately, mongrels,” he told them simply.

“What’s in there?” Gudako moved forward, watching the king hold the object of power closer to his person. Protectively. “What do you have?”

His glare was unlike anything she had seen from him before. Patience was lost on the king with that pointed gaze. “Your arm is battered and Jeanne has several broken ribs; yet you wish to interrogate me as though I am a beast who has wandered out to the pastures?”

“How dare you speak to our… master…” Her eyes, like Gudako’s herself, locked in on the king’s. Her words were halted with that foreboding glare, struck down without a word. Whatever he was holding, whatever he had seen in that room and had brought with him, it was not going to be discussed here and now. He was right too. Looking over, Gudako could see how much Jeanne was trying to hold in the pain she felt.

“L-let’s go,” Gudako offered. “We can discuss findings once we’ve returned to Chaldea.”

The king bowed his head a moment before holding the bundle closer to himself. He kept one hand wrapped around the middle of the bundle, the other at the top to hold beneath his head. There was nothing noticeable from her angle as they ran. Nothing to say what it was.

It couldn’t have been a grail. The grail from this singularity was tucked away in her bag at the moment, strapped to her back as they ran for the exit together. There had been nothing else to really grab and nothing had ever been like what he was holding. It couldn’t be material for strengthening work nor could it be an enemy.

Gilgamesh would have murdered an enemy on sight, not hold it close like this.

They reached the circle in time for the rayshift, leaving Gudako to all but pant once more as she tried to catch her breath.

The damn singularities were getting harder for some damn reason!

“We’re almost there,” the king murmured, “rest upon me for now.”

The world around them changed. Gone were the labyrinth-like walls and the doorways that led from one kind of area to another. Gone were the sounds of creatures scurrying and crying out from the darkness. The room was once more the sterile rayshift room with its metallic walls and steely arms overhead, wired to send them to any space and time.

“Senpai!” Mash was the first to run in, followed closely by Da Vinci.

“Ah! Mash!” The bad joke opportunity was too good to pass up. Gudako waved her broken arm, wincing a little at the pain. “Care to lend a hand? I think my spare is on the fritz.”

“You shouldn’t wave at me when it’s broken!” Mash pulled her arm close, shaking her head. “I swear, you have a terrible sense of humor. Stop using what’s broken.” That tender touch was all she needed to feel better immediately. Trust Mash to be the one to yet again save the day with her gentle nature and chastising.

“It’s fine,” Gudako replied, smiling at her good friend and servant. As her first servant and as her closest confidant, Mash had seen her through everything. She’d seen the best and worst of times. Every good jokester needed their straight man.

“It’s very broken,” Mash chastised. “It’s going to take a couple days to heal, even with our equipment.”

“Shame I can’t use a command spell, right Da Vinci?” She glanced over towards the other woman, smile faltering as she caught sight of the woman.

Da Vinci was standing in front of Gilgamesh, arms crossed as she stared up at him. “You have to take her back, king.”

“I will do nothing of the sort. Stand aside.”

“What? Her?” Jeanne moved closer, tugging at the cloth in the man’s arms. A mass of brown hair tumbled from the cloth. From behind the locks of hair, a small, heart shaped face was barely visible. Her eyes were closed, face bruised and cut in places as she slumbered soundlessly in the man’s arms.

Jeanne crossed herself.

Gilgamesh snarled in his native tongue.

“You brought back a civilian from a singularity. You can’t do that, Golden King,” Jeanne declared.

“She has nothing to do with that singularity,” the stubborn asshole replied, tugging the cloth back up. “If she were, it would have been impossible for her to shift. She is a master and she is mine.”

“Gilgamesh-“ Gudako stopped Mash a moment before she could argue, her eyes focused on the king.

He never held anyone. Not when his younger self had passed out on sweets. Not when his Caster self fell asleep in the bathing area and nearly drowned. Not when she had been wounded in countless battles. Hell, he flirted with Saber but refused to hold her when she was harmed, opting to instead merely stand next to her and mock her. This was someone who didn’t give a damn in that way about anyone or anything. He laughed at people. He insulted. He was fair in the end, but his feelings of warmth were about as warm as the ice tundra outside.

Yet here he was, holding the little woman in his arms and declaring her an abnormality not attributed to the singularity they had come from.

She had to be a mage, judging by the power coming from her. Probably not much older than her if at all, now that she was moving a little closer.

And the closer she came to the king, the more prepared he looked to fight his damn way through them all to the door. As though he would denounce every fight they had gone through and every moment of bonding and skill training they had gone through in an instant.

“I’m assuming she’s a former master of yours, Gilgamesh.”

“She is my master,” he replied simply, solemnly. He spoke the words with more authority than she had ever heard from him.

“Gudako is our master,” both Jeanne and Mash argued.

Gudako waved at both of them to stop with her good hand. Her gaze remained fixed on the deep red eyes of the king as she tried to find the words to say to him. There were command spells on her hand that said that she was his master. They had months of time together, since near the very beginning, that said that he knew she was his master.

There was no point in trying to get him to see that again. This woman in his arms was as real as their contract. They’d argue forever. “…We need to patch ourselves up,” Gudako pointed out to the room. “Let’s all head to the infirmary. Nightingale and the others will want to see us before long. If we wait, they’ll probably hunt us down.”

Something flickered in the king’s eyes. Dare she dream it were respect?

Mash and Jeanne began to argue with her quietly, following in her wake as she turned away from the king and headed for the door. Da Vinci moved in front of her, holding the door for them all as Gilgamesh took up the rear. Once again, she listened to him murmur to the little mage in his arms.

Other servants passed by them, a few speaking to her about this or that. Some bickered about one another to her as she greeted them back and nodded to their comments. Each step they took was another step away from whatever kind of mastership she had over the king behind her. It was an odd feeling, losing a servant.

He wasn’t even gone like some of the ones she had sacrificed for others’ sake. He was close at hand. She could talk to him at any time.

But there had never really been any other masters in Chaldea with her for long before. She had never really experienced having a servant reject her mastership before. What’s more, if the woman in the golden king’s arms rejected him, there would be no telling what would happen. The archer was too damn proud to crawl back to her, no matter what she said or offered.

“I sense patients.”

Nightingale’s monotone voice echoed through the hall, her eyes fixing on the arm and Jeanne’s bloodied chest.

Gudako laughed a little. “We may need a bit of patching up. Care to help us out?”

They weren’t allowed to move another step. Edmond cursed quietly as he assisted Nightingale in the infirmary. Jeanne was moved to another room as Gilgamesh found the other cot before her and laid down his prize.

“I never asked,” Gudako called out, gaining the king’s attention once more. “What is her name, Gilgamesh?”

There was hesitation, as though saying her name would bring some kind of plague upon the poor woman. “Hakuno… Her name is Hakuno Kishinami.”

“That’s cute.” There was little else to say about the name. Translated, it meant foil. Much like a foil to the king’s self. How interesting. “Hakuno, huh?” She laid back against the pillow and stared up at the ceiling, avoiding the king’s glare that was cut her way.

The sound of armor being removed could be heard a few minutes before the king was moving through the room. “Keep the other servants away from my room once I am done in here with her. I would rather not have them bothering my master when they belong to you.”

“Are you trying to say she’d steal them away from me?” She teased.

The glare cut through any humor. The man himself sighing as he ran a hand through his hair. “She wouldn’t dare, but she would feel more guilt if others abandoned you for her. She’s far too tender hearted to do anything deceptive.”

He was wiping at her face when Gudako looked over at them. His attention was focused in, the armor gone to reveal only his dark pants and the tattoos on his back.

Damn, lucky woman.

“I can’t promise about the kids around here, but I’ll tell the others to leave you be.”

The man grimaced.

Returning her gaze to the ceiling, Gudako rubbed at her arm. Yeah, her and Kid Gil would be having words later.

She needed to know who a little more about Hakuno.

Kid Gil would be her way in.

Chapter Text

There had been a sea of endlessness.

One moment, she had been in an entirely new world with Gilgamesh, wandering the streets with her at his side. Then the world had shaken. Hellfire had rained down from the heavens and Gilgamesh had been gone. She had tried to wander out to find him. He had left only to procure them something to eat.

Instead, she had found BB.

The woman had knocked her out. Her body had gone through periods of agony, eyes unable to open. Something had stabbed her, again and again.

Eventually, she had forced herself to stop screaming out in pain and welcome it in. It was the only thing that let her know that she was still alive. She was still there. There was still hope to have. Gilgamesh and the others were out there somewhere. She could be saved.

They had saved others before. It was just her turn, she had reasoned with herself.

No one had come for her though.

The pain went on and on.

And her mind continued to spiral in the depths of its abyss.

Was this what it was like to be a servant? Were they trapped in nothingness as well? Were they unable to scream out for help or find someone to speak with for eternity? Was their only chance at freedom a summoning that could or could not happen?

She tried to open her mouth, to call out for someone, something.

She tried to reach out with her magic circuits’ energy. The power shorted, increasing the pain.

“Don’t you dare die on me.” A voice snarled. “You are not permitted to be dead upon my arrival.”

She tried to move again, earning a loud exhale from the voice.

“Easy,” the arrogant voice breathed. Such relief was in their voice, such emotion in so little a statement. “Easy, Hakuno.”

Why did that voice sound so familiar to her? How long had it been since she had seen anyone? How long had this limbo lasted? Had she gone mad? Was this what insanity was like?

BB made it seem so much less comforting, but the voice reminded her of Gilgamesh. It reminded her so greatly of the king.

“You’re wounded,” the Gilgamesh murmured. The pain increased for a moment before numbness came over her. Something moved over her skin, her head beginning to pound with the strumming start of a headache.

His voice continued to murmur to her.

She focused on it and only it.

How long had it been since she had heard him speak to her? How long ago had they fought for an hour over whether or not she understood what pleasure was? God, but his voice was pleasure. The gentle timbre, the careful enunciation he put into his words, as though every syllable were an order to his people. She wanted to tell him what his voice meant, let him know that there was nothing that could compare to such an immense majesty like the sound of him speaking, but the words wouldn’t escape her as readily as they did for him.

“Rest for now,” he asked of her.

Rest.

Had the voice truly asked something so absurd of her? To enjoy repose after the nothingness of rest had claimed her for this long? When pain was so close that its embrace was nothing less than smothering?

She wanted to laugh.

If only that voice would be accompanied by the sight of the golden king! If only she could just reach out once again to his childish person. Feel him against her like when he forced himself into her bed and hogged all the sheets. Find him pulling her out of her seat with the others so he could have the ‘best spot’ at the student council table.

Instead, all she could do was listen to his voice as he spoke to her. All she could do was greedily take in what little pleasure she could with every sound that came to her. She could hear him speak to someone else, explain who she was. Something soon enough pressed against her skin again, stinging. There was pain again, more than before.

“Cute…” A voice commented.

What was cute?

Why would someone speak of beauty when there was nothing but agony in her senses? What on earth was happening around her? She longed to open her eyes for a moment more. Once more, the chasm of nothingness was closing in. She tried once again to reach out with her hands, to grip Gilgamesh to hold him with her. Awakening to BB again would be too much, far too much after this.

She couldn’t be given a piece of respite only to return to hell.

Gilgamesh…

Nothing but the abyss met her plea, the surrounding silence blanketing the wounds with its isolating voice. Her mind drifted, cleared once again.

Thoughts glinted, simple and elusive beings that they were.

Hakuno could only remain in that abyss, waiting and waiting.

The Moon Cell…

The thought of the place vanished as quickly as it came.

Golden hair…

The glorious golden mane disappeared back amongst the darkness.

Pleasure… Pain…

There was neither again. Numbness pressed itself upon her mind and body as she drifted along in the endless void of oblivion. To understand the world and its wonders was a mystery in this place, in this state.

Was there a purpose to this?

The question bubbled to the surface as she felt some thoughts remain. With each moment of waiting, she grew more restless, her arms and mind reaching out for anything- everything.

“Miss…”

Hakuno shifted, wincing at the pain that began in her shoulders. The blackness began to recede, giving way to greys as her consciousness drifted closer to the surface and the end of the abyss.

“Miss… Are you awake?”

Someone was speaking to her. There was someone nearby…

The memories raced through her mind in an instant, the flash of golden hair flickered in the forefront of her mind as she tried to jot upright. She fell back against the pillows, only slightly higher than before as the hoodie wearing boy tilted his head slightly.

Bright red eyes looked at her a moment. His golden hair gleamed before her, almost a mockery of what her mind had been so hard-pressed to remember. “So you are awake! I knew you wouldn’t sleep forever. The last few times I’ve been in here, you slept through all my attempts to talk to you. That’s rude to do to a king, you know? You should wake up when someone asks you to.”

He looked so much like Gilgamesh. Her head hurt just looking at him. She turned her gaze to the room, taking in the tapestries and wine vessels that could only be in Gilgamesh’s chambers. The cloth was draped carefully around the room, covering the cold metal looking walls. As usual, the king would do everything in his power to partake in luxuries, no matter the space he was given.

A fountain was even babbling nearby, mere feet from the bed.

“Where am I?”

“You’re in Chaldea,” the boy replied. “You were brought here a few weeks ago. Gudako said that the others were to leave Gilgamesh alone, but she didn’t explain why and the others said that he had brought another master to Chaldea.”

“Chaldea?” Was that near the planet they had been on? Was it near the Moon Cell?

“Allow me to introduce myself,” the boy declared, drawing her attention back to him. He stood up and set a hand against his chest, smirking in that oh so arrogant way of Gilgamesh’s. “I am Gilgamesh- the best version, if I do say so myself. I’ve been here in Chaldea for about a half year now and I’m Gudako’s favorite golden king servant.”

“There are versions of Gilgamesh?” Her voice sounded so croaky at the moment.

“Ah- yeah.” The boy- Gilgamesh nodded. “There’s myself, the young version. The version that’s worth spending all your time with.” He smiled as he said that, “Then you were brought here by Archer Gilgamesh. He’s the worst. You were very unfortunate to have to deal with him. And that leaves Caster Gilgamesh, although he’s always working and falls asleep from overworking in stupid places. He also hates everyone for some reason. I became horrible.” He settled back on the bed, draping himself across her lap. “You can’t imagine how hard it is to see your adult selves wandering around as complete assholes and workaholics. They know nothing of being kings. They lost all interest in pleasure.”

“I think Archer would disagree with you.”

“I don’t care,” he hummed, looking up at her. He reached a hand out, “he’s a jerk anyway. He would disagree that his hair was gold if he felt like it.”

He had a point there…

“What’s your name, miss?”

“Ah-“ she hadn’t bothered to say her own name. “You can call me Hakuno. My full name is Hakuno Kishinami.”

“Hakuno.” He grinned, curling a finger around a lock of her hair. “You don’t seem annoying like my older self. I wonder why he brought you here.”

“He’s not that bad,” Hakuno replied weakly. She glanced over at the fountain nearby a moment before clearing her throat. “…Would you mind getting me a glass of water, Gilgamesh?”

“Demanding things of a king?!” The boy sat up, admonishing her immediately. “And without offering!”

“I would be more than happy to play with you or spend time with you, but my throat is dry and I could really use something to drink,” she told him weakly.

“I’m holding you to your word. We will be playing together!” Immediately, he was scrambling from the bed. He seemed to almost bounce over his own feet as he opened a door nearby and returned with a golden goblet in hand.

“Thank you.”

“Ah- you don’t need to thank me, it’s wine. Apparently my older self knows nothing about proper drinks in his room.” The boy shook his head before smiling. “I, at least, know this one’s a sweet wine though. You should be okay.”

He was very cute. “I’m glad. Even when you’re young, you know I would prefer sweet things.”

“Fair ladies always prefer sweet things,” he replied, climbing back onto the bed as she took the goblet from him.

It was sweet indeed. Hakuno coughed a little, feeling a hand at her back as she tried a little more of the drink and stared into the dark depths of the cup.
“I could bring you something to eat as well,” little Gil offered, leaning closer.

“That’s alright, thank you, Gil.” She moved without thinking, pressing her lips to his forehead for only a moment. Movement was a difficult task, she found herself trying to ignore the pain to at least thank him properly.

It was that moment that sprung the boy off the bed. His hands went to his forehead, his eyes widening as he looked at her.

“You kissed me.”

“Sorry! I-“

“I hope you know you have to take responsibility now.” Gil spun around, beaming from ear to ear. His chest was puffed up in an instant. “Yep. You have to abandon this room as soon as you can and stay with me. I’ll break the news to master of course. She’ll understand. Yep. You’re my responsibility now and my mage, Hakuno Kishinami. I’ll be keeping you safe from my other selves and the other servants and you will play with me all the time.”

“Gil-“

He held up a hand, laughing in an all too familiar way. “It’s too late to take it back, Hakuno. I’ll be back with some toys in a while. Please finish your wine and get a little more rest before then. I should bring you some medicine from Nightingale as well. You’ll need to heal faster.”

He hummed, tapping his foot a moment before a door nearby began to jingle lightly. At the sound, the kid panicked, his words he was going to say died in his throat as he booked it for the only other door in the room. The last of his white jacket slipped through the opening before Hakuno saw his older self walking in from the other entrance.

“Hakuno…”

She had to set the cup down before she stained his sheets by spilling. He hadn’t changed at all. His golden armor was in place. His red tattoos as vibrant as ever. The same look was in his eyes as before, taunting her even as they praised her for being awake.

“Gilgamesh,” she breathed.

He shut the door immediately, turning the locks before he was crossing the room. The red gaze of his narrowed as he stood nearby.

“You kept me waiting for long enough,” he snarled.

“I’m glad you found me,” she told him.

“You disappeared on me.”

“I have no idea what happened after BB found me. I’m glad you were safe.”

The man tsked, turning his attention to the cup nearby. “You say such things after helping yourself to my supplies of liquor. I suppose they eased the perils of explaining yourself to me.”

“Your younger self gave it to me,” Hakuno murmured, opting to lay back down before she simply grabbed him and made a fool of herself. She would end up saying something stupid if they continued arguing and she’d feel like an idiot if she reached out to him only for him to turn away.

“My younger self… he was in here?”

“He went through that door,” she replied, gesturing at the other door. “He’s decided that after I heal up, I should stay with him. I don’t know why it is that you and your younger self are always so eager to make decisions without all the facts-“

“You will be staying in here until I deem otherwise!”

His eyes were blazing as she looked up at him. His fists were shaking.

She needed time. Both Gilgamesh and his younger self’s declarations were driving her head-first towards a headache beyond compare.

“Of course,” she told him, reaching out to grasp one of his hands. Her hands barely made it anywhere, only being successful due to the king’s meeting her grip. She held those hands tightly in her own, feeling the realness of his grip. Strong hands. Real, flesh and blood, hands. “I don’t intend to leave my only companion behind when he has yet to show me what pleasure is.” Her gaze flickered up to his. “You said you would, if you remember.”

“I remember clearly. I also remember you disappearing and the planet we arrived on turning into chaos around me.”

“I ran into BB and then things went dark. I don’t remember anything until I heard your voice calling out to me.”

The king huffed, opting to climb onto the bed with her only after a moment of debate. Where his younger self had been careful, the king felt no such qualms. His arms wrapped around her aching person and pulled her against him. She ignored her body’s protest and shut her eyes as she felt his heart beating.

“…You are the only servant I expected to come looking for me,” she told him.

He was moving a hand through his hair a moment before she found him cradling her. “What a stupid master I have,” he complained.

“What an arrogant servant I have,” Hakuno replied.

“Stay away from my younger self.”

“I can’t even move right now, Gil. What do you want me to do? Glare at him until he goes away?”

“Absolutely. Break his little heart in two before I do.”

Hakuno looked up, going to argue a moment before she felt a hand moving along her stomach. “Be nice. He’s you.”

“How bad is the pain right now, master?”

“It’s sore everywhere, but I’ll be fine. I’m glad to be away from BB.” That left them with figuring out where they were and what they would be doing now. Gilgamesh had been here for a while. He had settled in from the sounds of it. Plus, he had two other selves here. Perhaps he had some goal in mind here?

“Amazing how my younger self can make claims towards you yet neglect to bring you pain medication. Instead he brings you the cheapest wine in my chambers.” He scoffed, “Useless, the little shit.”

“Be nice,” she whined again.

“I will do nothing other than what I please.” He replied. A hand slipped beneath her chin, tilting her head back before her lips were covered by his.

Gilgamesh was pleasure personified.

Pleasure was an arrogance, above and beyond all pain and suffering. It was something that burned hotter than the sun and gleamed with more promise than all the unvierse’s gold. Her body responded like a live wire, her lips pressing back against his as her face burned. The feeling of her heart pounding against her chest was impossible to ignore. She could no more calm its breakneck pace than she could stop her toes from curling.

She tried though; tried to keep herself from losing track of the conversation. Of what he was threatening to do to his younger self for daring to be as demanding as him.

“As interesting as ever,” he breathed. His teeth caught her lip as he pulled away, sucking on it a moment before he smirked. “Rest for a while longer. Once you’re asleep, I’ll go grab you some medicine.”

“Your younger self said he would bring me some from a Nightingale.”

“I’ll be blocking his entrance into my chambers better in the future. You’re my treasure, not his. He needs to learn his place.”

“Go easy on him.”

“I’ve fought in battle with him. I know what he’s capable of. You do not.”

She moved her hands to pull his arm closer. It was more as comfort than anything else. He was real. The pain was gone and it was going to leave her entirely soon enough. She would be back to where she had been before, with Gilgamesh at her side and eternity before her. There were worlds to see and people to meet.

Whatever happened, she would have Gilgamesh once again right there.

Chapter Text

She woke up with Gilgamesh behind her. Sprawled out across his bed like always, the king was once again returning to his old ways.

Each day waking up at his side had begun to weave together, early on he would only leave for getting food or something to drink. Otherwise, it was like before. The king talked about Uruk, of his adventures into the realm of gods, of their adventures and his complaints over her friends from before.

In all the time she had spent lying on that bed with him, she hadn’t seen the younger version of him or anyone else since Gilgamesh had improved the locks on his room. Instead, she had been forced to wait around in the silence.

She was healing though. Standing up, she could only take a moment to appreciate how far she had come along with her healing. In the short time she had been back with Gilgamesh, she had gone from barely able to pull his arm into her arms to being able to pace. And pacing she had done, waiting for Gilgamesh to return after Gilgamesh had meandered off to the moon cell only knew where.

Ever since she could stand, the time he was gone for had become longer.

When he did return, she had been too tired to argue, opting instead to simply fall against him and listen to him chastise her for several minutes. She had been promptly tucked back into their bed.

He had wrapped her up in some garment from Uruk as well, complaining that if someone where to get in while he was away, they did not deserve to enjoy her body in ways that were reserved for him. The cloth was too soft though, too thin for her tastes. It felt more like being naked than nudity felt. The folds felt like they were draped in such a way that they could be peeled aside and her body exposed in all the wrong ways.

But she had a blanket on right now and her king was asleep. Looking back at him, Hakuno took a moment to watch him sleep.

It would be so easy to simply slip out of the room for a short bit of time. She could just visit younger Gilgamesh and fulfill her promise to him before returning to bed. She had told him that she would play with him. A game couldn’t last more than perhaps a half hour.

It would be fine.

She unbolted the door and cracked it open, looking around for a second.

The hallway was plain, giving no indication of wealth or regional appearance. In fact, it was clear she would most likely lose her way if she didn’t do something to mark that it was his room in this hall. She grabbed an empty wine goblet and set it on the windowsill across the hall.

There.

She would see that and know he was right here.

No one would trip on it or need to worry about it.

With that in mind, she began the winding hallway path towards discovery. Doors lined the hallway on the left side while the right side showed a wintry scene of snow and mountains.

It was actually very pretty as she walked through the hall. The snow was coming down gently, frosting the glass slightly without affecting the interior temperature. The silence in the hallway made it easier for her to just appreciate the scenery.

There was a fork in the hallway ahead, she followed after the windows.

Gilgamesh was someone who appreciated appearances. His younger self would no doubt be near a series of windows as well.

Going to see kid Gil hadn’t sounded so impossible as it was started to at the fourth fork in the road. Gone were the windows now. She was running into hallways with doors. Endless, unmarked doors. She was going to need to turn around soon enough.

Her body was starting to hurt though. Her feet were beginning to feel sore.

Gilgamesh had been worried about her straying from the room. She shouldn’t spend too long away from him.

If she didn’t see a room that looked like it could house the little Gil, then she would turn around and take her time getting back to the king. She could duck in a windowsill or something when people came by. Or maybe there weren’t too many people that lived near Gilgamesh.

It would make sense. He could be a royal pain in the ass.

It would also explain why no one was around.

She hurried around a corner, beginning to pick up the pace when she felt her feet hit something. The floor rose up to meet her hands, mind going blissfully blank as worries gave way to split second panic.

It was a shoe.

Hakuno stared at the feet that had been hanging out there for all the world to trip over. Following the feet to their owner’s face, she paused.

Right person. Wrong age.

What could only be caster Gilgamesh was fast asleep on a bench in this hallway. His head was against a pillar that had blocked him from view. Where her Gilgamesh had red tattoos, this one had different ones. The purple symbols adorned his arms, his chest completely unmarred and exposed to the elements, albeit underneath an open vest. His hands were at his sides with no signs of a book or anything in hand. It was as though he had simply sat down on his way from something and gone to sleep.

“…Gilgamesh.”

Hakuno moved forward, nudging him gently.

“Gilgamesh, would you please wake up.”

His nose wrinkled slightly, mouth opening for a yawn before he opened his eyes. The man sleepily looked her over before sitting up. “Did I fall asleep again?”

“Did you want to fall asleep in the hallway?”

The man blinked at her, as though processing the sheer absurdity of that. “What do you mean? Did I want to fall asleep in- mongrel, I have no desire to resign myself to such paltry accommodations simply due to a bit of fatigue.” Standing up, he glanced her over again. Nose a bit higher in his arrogance than she was used to with her golden king. “You aren’t a servant nor a little worker of this facility.”

Astounding. A Sherlock in the making. “I’m Archer Gilgamesh’s master.“

He simply sniffed at that. “Him, huh? Pity.” The man looked around and frowned more. “He has abandoned you it seems.”

“He’s resting.” Which was why she needed to hurry. “I was actually trying to find my way to Kid Gilgamesh’s room.”

The man raised a brow, looking down at her.

“I told him that I would play with him when I was better and I’m feeling much better now…”

Still the man was just staring at her. She could feel her face burning. Why was it that this man was making her feel like she needed to explain herself so much? She was just going to spend time with his younger self. She was going to repay her debt and enjoy the company of someone who had grown to mean so much to her when he was older.

“I mean- he was nice enough to help me wake up. I owe him, you see. Plus he was nice to talk to after having no one to talk to for so long. You get lonely on your own after a while. No matter how much work and recovering you have to do, it helps to have someone else there. He was kind of like a friend.”

He was still staring at her. Did he not care for the friend comment? She balked.

“-not that I wouldn’t consider him a friend. He’s a great kid. Only to be expected of Archer- and you! I mean-“ She was not finding her words right now with him. No doubt he was getting pissed off at her. “I don’t really know you at all, but I-“

She stopped as he leaned forward, looking her in the eyes. The same nonsensical, judgement filled gaze met hers without any leeway. She could sense her anxiety coming to its limits.

“Do you write?”

Did she- “Y-yes,” she replied simply.

“And you wish to repay a debt to a Gilgamesh, is that correct?”

Was it a debt? Playing with him had come as payment for the glass of wine. That was somewhat like a debt, but- “I owe younger Gilgamesh for being so kind to me. He seemed like he had been watching over me, making sure I didn’t die in my sleep or something.”

He nodded to himself, straightening before he held out a hand. That simple gesture said everything. Immediately, Hakuno could feel herself easing down from the anxious fix she had fallen into. She smiled at him as she filled his hand with hers. But he didn’t simply turn and lead her away. Rather, the man yanked her forward, tossing her over one shoulder before heading the way she had come. Her mind went horribly blank, mind reeling. What the hell was this?

“Gil-“

“Silence.” The man’s hold tightened. “Do not let them hear you.” He turned away from the corridors with the windows and voices began to emanate from down the hall. Hakuno watched several servants appear, frowning at her and Caster as they paused.

A dining area came and went from one doorway, voices picking up as one of the servants called to them. Caster picked up the pace, turning a couple more corners before opening and closing a door.

Had she not been in Gilgamesh Archer’s room for a while, she almost would have mistaken this room for his. As it were, the room still held the same tapestries, the same fabrics draped over the walls and hanging from the ceiling. But the wine kegs were gone. Instead, volumes and tomes filled the room. An endless array of texts and talisman were littering the room. The desk, or what seemed like a desk, although with very little space for its intended purpose, was carved with the heads of lions on each drawer. Looking around more with her hands pressed against the Caster’s back, Hakuno found herself realizing that there were even more books than she had first noted. The walls’ tapestries weren’t covering the walls, but rather were hiding away bookcases.

“I have things that need recorded, but I also have books to read,” Caster told her. “If you can write, I would ask that you repay your debt to the younger Gilgamesh through working through a few tomes for me. My master wants to know what I have been writing, and I decided to gamble with her. A terrible notion on my part, since I taught her well on how to gamble. It needs to be in the language we are speaking at present.”

Translate his writing? “My Sumerian is not the best-“

“If you have spent such time with my Archer self, you’ve seen the Sumerian script. You probably have a basic knowledge, correct?”

Oh did he teach her. A good part of her mind was still dreaming of the day that she would forget those times when the man had felt like indulging in trying to teach her to be fluent in Sumerian. It was still impossible for her to understand his speaking the damn language. However, “I learned enough to read it, but I might make mistakes…”

“Are you so lacking in confidence that you would turn down a way to repay your debts? Are you truly a master?”

Such simple questions and she was already feeling insignificant. As he set her down, Hakuno felt herself sigh. “You’re as much of a jerk as ever, Gil.” But then again, she had come to ignore that asshole-oriented nature, opting to focus on his more redeeming qualities. Good taste, strong determination, endless focus- Her eyes drifted to the page written on a tablet nearby. She could make out a good handful of words at first glance. If she concentrated, perhaps it wouldn’t take too long… “Fine, but I still want to spend some time with younger Gilgamesh.”

“A waste of time. He’ll no doubt waste your translation time with games and frivolous dreaming.” Caster pat her head a moment before moving to spread himself across the bed nearby. Naturally, he needed the books covering it to fly off, moving into a pile near the desk before he settled in. A book flew to his hands before he was reading.

Powerful magic with this one, Hakuno thought, moving to read the text she had seen before a little more closely.

When one is fighting against a caster, one should remember to watch out for riders. They come from behind while spells are being cast and strike down the casters before they can finish their spells. As an appropriate counter, assassins can be utilized as a way to defeat a rider. For, as arrogant as riders are in their confidence in riding into battle, they are unprepared for opposition that crawls out of the shadows. Yet shadows cannot exist if casters eliminate them. The three types of fighters…

Hakuno frowned at the writing, looking around for something to write on. Her eyes fell upon what looked to be a start into plain text. She grabbed a pen from nearby and began to scribble down what she was finding.

“Who wrote these?”

“I did. Just simple thoughts,” Caster replied idly, turning a page in his book.

“Do you really think assassins can go up against riders?”

“Of course. Riders are too self-absorbed. They never see the assassins coming.”

They left it at that, opting to let the sound of the pen scribbling down a translation of what the texts said and the sounds of the pages being turned fill the air. Her feet stopped hurting, but Hakuno found herself moving over to the bed as well, spreading out the tomes and tablets across the mattress and writing while lying down.

The king’s bed was far more comfortable than anything she had ever rested on. A surprising fact since he seemed so unwilling to use the thing for its intended purpose.

The caster king rotated slowly, opting to resting his head on her back as she continued to work. The book in his hands was soon complete, switched out for another. The page turning resumed. The silence falling into place comfortably.

He was easier to put up with, she thought as she glanced over her shoulder at the man.

Seeing the king only made her remember Kid Gil’s remark about the king being tired often though. His eyes were closing a little more with each page. His page turning slowed. As she finished another text, she set the book aside and ran a hand through the man’s hair lightly.

“You should rest.”

He didn’t miss a beat. “I have work to do.”

“You do and a lot of what you’ve written is amazing to read,” she agreed. “ If you wouldn’t mind, I can do the work for now if you let me. Surely letting me translate some more and read through this won’t do any harm, would it?”

“I should also look over how things in Uruk are faring. I left my singularity to be a servant to Gudako, but that has left them at a disadvantage at home. I’ve barely pieced back together half the peace that my world had before everything went into a singularity of a situation.”

“I’ll wake you up in a bit,” Hakuno promised. “You can rest for a time while I finish these and then you can check on Uruk. I would like to see how your country looked at some point if you’ll allow me.”

The man stared at her, as though trying to decide whether she was joking or whether she was serious about wanting to see his home. Was it an odd thing to say? She really wasn’t sure how the master that had him treated him. Perhaps Gudako wasn’t very interested in her servants. She seemed to have more than one. Perhaps it was hard to spend enough time with them all.

Still, she waited, not daring to take back her statement. The opportunity to see Gilgamesh’s home was too tempting to pass up.

“You are a strange master, mongrel.”

Such a simple statement, but it felt wrong. It had been a while since he had called her a mongrel. She had gotten accustomed to Archer calling her master. “You can call me Hakuno.”

The caster merely grunted. “I will rest for a spell, but you must awaken me as soon as you hear footsteps in the hall. That means the next meal is ready for the other servants. I will ensure you have something to eat in return for your praiseworthy work.”

“It’s a deal.”

And it was a deal. The book was set aside, his body stretching out beside her before he was soon enough back in the depths of slumber. This time without his feet hanging out where people would trip over them.

He was horribly overworked, Hakuno thought to herself as she continued the efforts. Each page brought more insight about the place, Chaldea. Notes about servants. Their strengths, faults, quirks…

It seemed that a lot of servants that she had seen before when she had been with everyone else were here. Hans. Karna. Robin Hood.

She smiled at the passage about Gawain. It would appear that he had shown up soon enough as well.

Each and every servant was scribbled about in one way or another.

Hakuno glanced over at Caster.

He had been asked to translate all of this for his master? Did she realize what all was here? If the other servants read these descriptions…

Hans would definitely never let the man live it down. He would whine and complain about each word, right down to the bare fact that he wasn’t the tallest man in the area.

Gawain would be fine, but Robin and Karna would both be a little uncomfortable with this information readily available. They would no doubt prefer it never have existed in the first place.

What’s more…

She paused, glancing at another page as the internal debate continued.

Gilgamesh Archer and Arthur lookalikes.

Despite several attempts of our master to calm the turmoil, my younger self seems to have found himself a hobby in lecherous thoughts and unreturned claiming attempts towards anyone bearing resemblance to Lady Arthur Saber. Although he doesn’t seem interested in Nero for some reason, his attempts have caused many battle casualties and are becoming progressively more frustrating for our master. Gudako would be wise to pull him from battle or at least keep him in support if his actions continue. She is intent upon bonding with them both to resolve the problem, but Gilgamesh is a servant that listens to no one…

What on earth…

“Caster,” Hakuno moved carefully, holding the text to herself. “Caster…”

“Nngh.”

“Who is Archer’s master?”

“Everyone here is the servant of Gudako or a human worker who survived some situation. I have yet to deem it worthy upon noting,” the man replied sleepily.

“I see… So I lost him after all.”

It would explain why he was hiding her away. It was probably bothersome to his master for her to be around. Another master would be frustrating after all. If someone came along who had possessed Gilgamesh before her, she wasn’t sure what she would have done.

“You’re upset.”

“I’m fine. I’m sorry for waking you,” Hakuno murmured, but the man reached out. Before she could make any effort to move away, the man was pulling her close, holding her chin in one gloved hand.

“It upsets you to have lost him.”

“He has a good master, right?”

“Gudako is adequate, I suppose.”

Coming from Gilgamesh, that meant everything.

Her stomach was churning at the very thought. She had botched up so much. Poor Gudako, forced to tolerate Gilgamesh storing away his old master in his chambers and refusing to probably do any battle. It sounded like they did a lot of fighting too.

Out of all the servants she had seen in her time, Gilgamesh was the most powerful and the most reliable for any battle. Losing him was like losing a leg.

“Mongrel,” Caster sat up slowly, frowning more as he stared at her. “Cease with that look immediately.”

Batting his hand away, she turned away. “I’m fine, Caster. I just- I should apologize to Gudako for taking so much of her servant’s time. She has probably needed both you and your archer self. It's not helpful that I’ve been taking up so much of Archer’s time. She’s no doubt upset.”

“Look upon me when you speak to me, woman.”

“I think I’ll go find Gudako,” Hakuno told him, forcing the feelings away. For now, she would focus on what could be done. “I’ve been nothing more than a burden.”

“Enough. You have no need to do anything such as that,” Caster grabbed her again, this time taking the opportunity to both pull the text from her hands and to lay her out across his bed. His face was close to hers, eyes narrowed. “Gudako has no concerns in regards to how Archer or any of her servants spend their time. There’s far too many of us for her to feel such concerns. Do not waste your breath with such placations. What’s more, why does it concern you what she thinks on the matter? You were his master before if what I’ve been told is correct.”

“I won’t steal a servant away from someone else.”

“Then what will you do?”

“I’ll just have to think of something. I figured things out before.”

“If rumors are true, then you were found badly beaten in a singularity.”

She went silent, thinking. “…I will just have to summon another servant. Or perhaps I can help here with the servants that have been summoned. You have a lot of valuable information written about them all. I know a few of them already. It wouldn’t be hard to provide support wherever I can.”

“You would settle yourself as a support?”

She almost forgot how much he hated being a backup to anyone or anything. “I wouldn’t be settling.” Settling meant giving up something. Being able to help everyone again, in whatever way she could-

No, it wasn’t settling. It was being useful. It was having purpose.

“I would be doing whatever I could to make the team better. Only an idiot would settle when they could simply lend a hand when it’s most needed. To quote you, ‘I’m just there at the right time to lend my aid, you can praise me as you see fit.’”

A grin came about at that, his head tilting a little as he looked her over again. “How interesting… So we are one in the same…”

“What do you mean?”

Caster moved to stand up, pulling the writings and translations into his arms. “Lay there for now. I’m going to take what you’ve finished translating to Gudako. She will no doubt be able to keep herself entertained with the more prudent information. You made sure not to translate what was there of others, correct?”

“I know you said to translate them all, but I couldn’t… No one should have their personal information and weaknesses written in plain text like that. Some things are meant to never be read by those that could use it against them.“

Gilgamesh just smirked, that expression softening into something uncannily like Archer’s. He motioned her towards the pillows with one hand. “Remain there for now and rest. You’ve been moving around and working enough. When I return, I will escort you back to my Archer self’s room.”

Praise the golden king and his endless wisdom. Hakuno complied easily with those demands, smiling faintly. “Please let Gudako know that I don’t want to force Archer to choose between myself and her. She has worked so long with him. I would never make any of her servants choose between us.”

“Rest, woman. Rest.”

“I should be saying that to you. You still look so tired.” He needed- no, deserved- to be able to have some rest as well. “It’s hard to be able to fight when you’re exhausted. A wise king knows when to rest.”

In three steps, he was back above her, close enough that their lips pressed against one another’s. There was no pulling away or complaining. The air left her, her thoughts scattering in her mind’s eye as his warm lips moved against hers. His embrace was impossible to describe, for when she tried to think, her mind remained frozen.

Her hands went to his arms, holding for dear life even as she tried not to nudge the documents in his arms.

“I must run to another servant’s chambers but for a moment. I will return soon enough. You will remain here in my bed until my return, correct?”

“As long as you help me find my way back to Archer’s room after you’re done… and maybe something to eat?”

“I will procure us nourishment while I’m away,” he promised. “Do you have preferences?”

“Preferences?”

“Sweets? Breads? Do you wish for meats or-“

“Sweets sound great but maybe some of the other things you’ve mentioned. I don’t really have any preference at the moment.”

He hurried from the room without preamble, leaving her to wonder whether or not she should be considering trying to find her way back to Archer’s room on her own.

Chapter Text

“That’s entirely unfair!”

“That’s the way the cookie crumbles, kiddo.” Gudako grinned as she picked up the cards that had been set down and began to shuffle the deck. There was something to be said for her arm working again. Along with that, this made the third time she had won without little Gilgamesh catching on to the fact that she was cheating. Nursery Rhyme had taught her well in the ways of cheating in poker games alongside Billy and Jack. “Hold up your end. What do ya got for me?”

“Nothing,” Gilgamesh crossed his arms, pouting. “My older self is being an asshole. Won’t let me in. He changed the locks and not even Jack can figure them out. Or Kiritsugu. We’ve been trying to sneak glances, but Archer attacks whoever is close when he enters his rooms. He has gone entirely barbaric. You should have seen poor Nursery the other day. He nearly ripped her pages out!”

“Couldn’t you use Babylon to slip a portal in there?”

“It doesn’t work like that, idiot mongrel!” The boy sulked further, staring at her shuffling more critically. Shit. At this rate-

“Gudako. Younger self.”

Gudako paused, looking over at the man nearby only to feel her insides turn to ice. That wasn’t good. The only time Caster called her by name was when he figured out she was sneaking sleeping pills into his food or gas into his bedroom. He should have forgiven her by now for that latter attempt. Had it not gotten into the other servants’ rooms in that hallway, she would have been able to just claim he had been tired and forced him to rest too.

Damn that Mash.

“The texts, as promised.”

“Ah, I see... Wait- OH!” Gudako stood up immediately, accepting them from the man with a grin. “I was wondering if I would ever get to see what you write in all that time you spend working. Thank you for doing this for me.”

He nodded, glancing over at his younger self. “You’ve been trying to snoop into Archer’s room.”

No questioning. No emotion. Just a cold statement of fact.

Kid Gil nodded, “You would too if you saw the woman he has in there. She’s got all these wild magic circuits like some of the books I’ve read describe. We’re talking circuits you can feel from across a room. It’s like being next to a warm fire on a cold winter night. And then she’s really nice too. I got her to promise to play with me, but Archer’s being an asshole. I hope I become more like you than him…” The boy grimaced. “I don’t like that either actually. I hope Enkidu can save me from both fates.”

Gudako shook her head. “I’m sure he can’t keep his guard up forever. Either that, or I’ll just use a command spell in the end. I’m surprised that the girl hasn’t wanted to leave. Hanuko-“

“It’s Hakuno,” Caster corrected.

“Hmm?”

“She left his room early this morning,” Caster told her simply, shrugging as though the woman wasn’t a master of unknown power and origin and was instead something like the weather outside: Cold, consistent, boring. “I wanted to inform you that I’ve given careful consideration to the situation and have decided that I will be removing your hold of me shortly and creating a contract with the young woman. You are tired of running into every singularity alone and her assistance would mean that you no longer have to face down enemies alone. Aside from that, the woman was found without purpose. It only would spell trouble for her to be left roaming Chaldea where others would question her purpose here.”

“Ah- What?” What was he saying? He was leaving? Removing himself from her hold? The rest of his statement was lost in the light of that.

Kid Gil stared at him too, slack jawed as well.

“I am severing our contract,“ he repeated again, slower and with much more emphasis on his words.

“How?”

Caster waved her question off in dismissal. “Semantics. I have no need to elucidate, lest others attempt the same thing. I have no interest in causing sides to be drawn and the woman already feels guilt over Archer’s immense time spent helping her heal when he has a master needing him. With the number of Casters that you possess and the location of where you have cast me, I can easily ascertain that my usefulness to you is lackluster.”

Lackluster?! She had gotten him and Merlin at the same damn time!

“C-Caster!”

The man turned around, heading out the door without another word.

“Did… Did he just leave me?”

A card fell out of her sleeve, serving as the only warning before a set of chains wrapped around her arms.

“What have you been putting in your sleeves, Master?”

A pair of red eyes gleamed as something hit the lights. All she could do was look around in the darkness, feeling her future shrinking with the young Gilgamesh’s temper rising.

“G-Gilgamesh,” she had to stutter to get the name out. “I can explain…”

Fuck, this was going downhill.

Chapter Text

With Gudako informed of his plan, there was little else he could do but to go through with the next phase of his contracting plan: Medea.

An interesting Caster and one of the first to greet him in Chaldea, he had quickly struck up a conversation, trading notes on how one could effectively obtain a servant and keep them in line. Medea’s ideas had been even more intriguing as she had discussed trapping servants in a small space, keeping them contained should they get out of hand.

The woman herself was sitting in a corner of the dining area, picking at what had to be food prepared by someone other than Emiya as he entered.

“King Gilgamesh,” she greeted.

“Queen Medea.”

She enjoyed that title, although he had no qualms with simply addressing her as Medea. Her cheeks flushed slightly, her hands going to her lap as she pushed the food away. “What brings you to the dining hall? I thought you were going to be studying on the effects of that gas upon Sparticus.”

Ah, their latest experiment: Testing poison gas to see if Sparticus would expand like he did when attacked. He smiled ruefully at the reminder. It would serve very useful for an attack to know if Sparticus could be used to block large exits without damaging him externally. “It is on hold. Permanently.”

“Oh?”

“Come with me.”

It went without saying that she listened, following after him after raising her hood back up. They moved down the hallway to a quiet corner of the base before he spoke.

“You informed me that Rule Breaker had the power to sever contracts.”

“It does… Should the servant be amicable, it can effectively cut all ties: bonds and all.”

“And for the seals?”

Medea shrugged, “As I told you before, they come to me, although I can release them at will. You know this after our testing. Why are we discussing what we already know… and here of all places?”

He and Medea had discussed and tested the talents of her weapon a handful of times on lesser servants. Willingly, of course. The servants they had used had been unwilling to conform to the area for one reason or another. Hating other servants, feeling unwelcome in Chaldea. Sometimes they were summoned several times, confusing Gudako before they were gone again.

Perhaps it was controversial, even malicious in all honesty, but the two of them had agreed it was a necessary test. Freeing servants was a useful knowledge, especially if their master turned away from her noble goal. Humanity demanded a savior that wouldn’t toss them into darkness.

“I would like you to sever my ties to Gudako.”

The woman stared at him, her eyes wide. “…To what end?”

“I have found something important. Something I must do, but I cannot do so with Gudako connected to me as my master. She needs to release me, but she won’t allow it.”

“Won’t… King, you are asking me to betray our master simply because she won’t let you get your way. You know that if I do this, you-“

“I know I will begin to fade.”

“And you still want to go through with this?” Medea pulled out her dagger, shaking her head. “I can’t promise anything. We’ve been testing on low servants, not on those like ourselves.”

“I have faith in your abilities, unlike some.”

Her face heated, her lower lip once more taking abuse as she chewed on it for a minute. “If anyone else had asked for this… anyone… I-“

“You are doing me a great service and I have afforded this conversation and goal every argument that I can imagine.” He reached out gently, stroking at her hair. “You and I have discussed the relevance of dreams. As with you seeing Jason come to you, so I saw this coming to pass. Should we not do this, I will lose my one opportunity.”

“You could try to have both Gudako and this opportunity,” Medea murmured, her eyes drifting up to his.

Even as she said that though, he knew it would be impossible. Jealously alone would never stand for such things. Even now, he could see the little mage in his bed, quoting him, stroking his hair, translating his texts as though she were one of his people and not a mage that had some relevance to his archer self. His dreams had warned him of the coming of someone close to his equal. Someone who would bring back the feelings he hadn’t felt since Enk…

No, he could not think of their name.

“Medea,” Gilgamesh wrapped an arm around the caster’s waist, holding her hand with the dagger to his chest. “Do me this favor and I gain the world.”

Her body melted against him. The woman was weak to blonds, to men who gave her and only her attention. He almost felt bad for conforming to the Argonaut's tactic that had soothed her ire a thousand times over. “Alright…”

“Thank you, Medea.”

“You’re sure about this,” Medea asked again. “Are you planning to return to your singularity?”

His body felt lighter now as the dagger pierced his chest. Already, he could feel his body rejecting the elements around them as the last bits of his contract with Gudako faded from his essence. Medea stepped back, looking him over and nodding. As seals appeared on her hand, she chanted them away. He was free.

“I have plans in place. I simply need to fetch some food and return to my chambers.”

The woman winced, “I would say you have about five minutes unless you recontract. Forget the food- Ah, Gilgamesh!”

Five minutes? Damn it all.

He glanced down and could already see himself breaking down. Like the servants they had watched fade before, his legs were giving off bits of mana, fading to show the floor beneath him. Medea was right. He needed to hurry back to the woman in his room. He had estimated that there would be more time. As it were, he would barely make it back before he was gone.

That left little choice. He would need to contract with her first and then they could eat together.

The tug of the world removing him was increasing as he hurried along the corridor, opting to ignore Medea. By the time he turned the corner, a lightness was enveloping him.

And his heart nearly stopped beating.

A flash of gold and he ducked back behind the corner. The sound of the woman’s name echoed in the air around him as the Archer stopped.

“Hakuno!”

He was heading in the damn direction of the woman. If he didn’t hurry… if he didn’t find a faster way to Hakuno…

Archer would find her and it would be too late. The man would get in the way of any possible contracting and he would return to the darkness of the holy grails’ essence. He would wait for eternity to be summoned once more.

He took the right, running as fast as he could.

“Yo! Gil Caster!” Cu Caster waved at him a little, frowning as he grabbed ahold of him. “What’re ya doin’?”

Damn, the man had poor timing. “I need to get to my room.”

“You’re fadin’…” The man blinked at him. “Literally. What did you-“

“You can cast me through the halls to my room, correct?”

“Hmm?” The man grinned, summoning his staff into fruition. “A siftin’ eh? Yeah. I could probably-“

“I will give you every piece of information I have on the red archer if you cast me back to my room this instant without any further discussion.” Being so much like his lancer self, the man took every opportunity to bribe the red archer that cooked into giving him extra food and power. He enjoyed nothing more than watching his lancer self get upset. The game would become even more competitive if the man knew why Lancer had such a sour opinion of Emiya.

“Oh hell yeah, deal. I’ve got your back, one caster to another-“

“Cu!”

“Fine!” The man began in an instant, chanting a moment before the world around him vanished. Godly Caster that he was, Gilgamesh sighed in relief as the man disappeared. Instead of the hallway, he found himself coming into fruition in his own chambers. His bed rose up to meet him, upon which was Hakuno. She barely made it out of the way in time before he slammed down into the bedsheets, grunting at the book she had dropped under him.

“Caster!”

“Woman…” He looked over at her, allowing himself to lean against her person. “I thought I wouldn’t make it to you again… My contract is gone.”

“What- Caster!” Hakuno’s arms wrapped around him, her fingers touching at the fading legs. “What happened?!”

“I need a contract,” he murmured, taking in her touch. It was so different from Medea’s, so gentle. It was as though her feelings were worn like attire.

“What about Gudako? Should I go find her?! Could she help?”

He focused on the task at hand. Despite her relatively calm nature up until now, she was panicking. Gilgamesh pulled her hands into his, resting them on his chest. “Gudako has enough servants. I don’t believe her energy is enough to sustain me.”

“What can I do?”

“Contract with me.”

The woman nodded, her panic easing slightly. “You’re right. We can figure something out afterwards. But did Gudako summon too many servants or…”

“Contract with me, Hakuno Kishinami.”

“Right. There’s no time. You’re already so faded.”

The woman didn’t question it. She didn’t falter. Immediately she was reciting the old chants, stroking his hair gently as she went. As though he required comfort! His Archer self had found himself nothing less than a selfless heart. He would make good use of it since the man had neglected to keep his treasure.

“I accept your contract.”

The heaviness of the contract set into place within his bones in an instant. The overflow of power… Well, the woman was more potent than Gudako was. Where the mages of this land had made contracting a much simpler process, there was something… more ancient- in the way that they were contracted. He was tempted to go try out the power she had given him.

Such ancient power, well- He wanted to take the time to understand it, experiment with it. Such was the way of mages when encountering a new ability. He needed to understand how far this power and this bond of theirs could go.
Hakuno’s tender touch brushed his bangs back. At the movement of his bangs, he could see the red marks marring her skin. Signs of their newfound contract. Nothing and no one had shown such allegiance and beauty as she did with those marks. He pulled the hand into his own, admiring the gentle curves and points of the three seals before he pressed his lips to it.

That smooth skin warmed to him, welcoming him like a lover’s arms.

“…Caster…”

Her voice, almost too soft to make out, drew his eyes to her. Her hand was still trapped within his grip. “Yes, Master?”

It felt good to call her that. He understood his archer self now. Whoever this woman was, she had something akin to Enkidu. Such simplistic and primal instinct around her, leaving little doubt despite her attempt to avoid eye contact.

“What happened to cause you to lose your contract?”

He kissed her hand again, giving a low sound rather than answering her question. Should he say that she had lost him the contract? Tempting him away from his master with her eyes like the color of Babylon’s mightiest temple and body surpassing Ishtar’s beauty?

Perhaps he could tell her about his dreams, of gentle caresses and unlimited power. Dreams where he had attained such riches that he had been driven to tears.

A feat he had never imagined was possible.

“Do not make me speak of it,” he told her simply.

Her face was reddening from his attentions, eyes flickering away from him.

Unacceptable.

“No, look at me for a moment.” He reached up, turning her face towards him once again. He repeated the action from before, keeping her hand against his lips for a moment to enjoy watching her see him like this. She squirmed, like the purest and youngest of temple maidens, unaccustomed to a god’s attention.

“Caster… Did something happen when you visited Gudako?”

“Nothing of note, aside from her cheating against my younger self. One should play fairly against my younger self. He does not take deception well.”

“Then what happened to cause you to lose your contract?”

“Later,” he told her. “Let me rest. It is as you said earlier, I am tired.”

A cheap way out of the conversation. Other than dreams, he had no reason to necessarily abandon Gudako. Although, Gudako had bothered him far too greatly in recent time with her casting him aside for newer servants. He was away from his people, sitting around with his thumbs twiddling. The opportunity to change things had been far too tempting.
But Hakuno seemed too nervous about stepping upon Gudako’s toes. He wouldn’t burden her with such information.

“I should let you rest. I need to get back to Archer. I’ve been away long enough that he must be searching for me.”
He pulled her hand closer and shut his eyes, refusing to address the absurdity of such a thought. Going to his Archer self when she was already with her servant: purely ludicrous.

“Caster?”

Tugging her head closer to himself, he ignored her protests. Not that she protested long. Her arms wrapped around his waist, her face pressing to his chest.

“An hour. Then I need to find Archer and we need to figure out why your contract was ended.”

Like two halves of the same whole, he found her body fitting into place with his own. Her sweet face, still bearing the heat of her newness to their relationship, was pressed against his heart. He did his best not to smile at that fact, knowing she was looking up at him, searching to see if he were still awake.

Chapter Text

She waited for a while once he had shut his eyes. The peaceful expression that soon overtook him left no doubt that he had gone to sleep. Like Gilgamesh Archer, it seemed that Caster also had a habit of ending conversations he didn’t want to have with simply shutting his eyes and feigning rest.

He was as childish as ever.

Pulling out of his arms slowly, Hakuno inched towards the door. Knowing the king, if he sensed she was awake, he would drag her back to bed and complain. Weird to try to escape one copy of a man for another.

Still, she didn’t stop focusing on him until she silently pulled the door shut.

The hallways were darker now. The mountains were filled with shadows outside, the windows seeming like they were the only thing keeping the frigid winter outside and the warm temperature inside. The hallways themselves were slowly being lit more by the lights overhead, like there was only a set amount of light that they liked in the halls at any given time.

How strange.

She waited a moment by Caster’s door, trying to gauge which direction would be more likely to have Archer’s room.

To her left, there were the sounds of people.

Right, the windows gleamed along one side of the wall, showing off the mountainside she had not seen anywhere near Gilgamesh Archer’s rooms. All the mountains in the window before had been off in the distance.

Which meant she was most likely on the other side of the building?

This seemed reasonable.

Each step down the next hallway brought her closer to the sounds of dishes and conversation. Low murmurs and the occasional laugh came from a double doored room. Along with that, she could smell food nearby as well.

It must have been the kitchens. No wonder Caster had mentioned that she would hear footsteps towards the next meal time. His rooms had been placed right next to the dining area.

Probably convenient, although she could see Caster being sour about it. Archer had hated having his room to anything when he had been on the far side of the Moon Cell with her. Hell, even when he had taken over her room, he had whined about its location.

A set of footsteps down the hall made her duck into the nearest door, waiting until the steps were gone before she looked around the hallway.

There was no time to investigate the hallways right now.

Looking at the room behind her, Hakuno frowned.

It looked like there were pods of some kind in the room. Lots of empty pods.

What the hell was she looking at in here?

Moving over to one of the things, she frowned at the machinery nearby, pressing a button. A flat line and blinking numbers appeared on a monitor next to the pod… Was this for vital signs?

What was kept in these rooms?

A loud crash in the room next door and squabbling shook her out of her trance. Clicking the machine back off, Hakuno hurried to the door and back into the hall. She sprinted.

There was no time for being slow right now. If she wanted to get back to Gilgamesh’s room, she needed to go right now or one of the other servants would find her. With how many servants Gudako had, there was no telling what would happen if she was seen wandering without a servant at her side. If one wasn’t friendly, she’d be in trouble.

Her lungs were pounding against her ribcage as she ran though. As she rounded the corner and looked around from behind a hallway pillar at the halls and doors, she could taste the faint taste of copper on her tongue.

It had been a little soon for strenuous exercise of any kind. She needed to conserve some of that running energy for an important point in time.

She recognized the bench down at the end of the hall though. Caster had been sleeping there. She needed to go down the hall and to the right. That’s the way she had come.

She slid behind the bench and against the pillar as footsteps came from the direction she was heading. As she pressed against the pillar, she could see a pair of people talking as they walked down the hall. One held some kind of bow in hand. Probably an actual Archer of some sort. Then again, it looked somewhat like a harp.

She wasn’t sure what to make of that.

The other, she noted, seemed to grow flowers around himself. Dressed in all white robes and wielding a black staff, the being looked like some kind of old school wizard rather than a servant. A caster if she had to make any guess. As they reached the end of the hall where she had just come, the flowery one motioned the other ahead and paused.

That white hair seemed to gleam a half dozen different colors and hues of color as he looked over at her. A small smile drifted into place on his face.

There was nothing good that could come from that look.

Hakuno waved at him lightly, motioning with a finger for silence before slipping around the pillar and hurrying down the hall the way she had thought was to Archer’s room.

She looked back halfway down the hallway, noting a head of white hair dangling from the strange flower man. The smile on his face was a bit larger than before.

“There are hallways that look like other hallways,” he called. “You would like to go the other way. Your golden archer king’s room is the other way, keep to the windows. Someone decided to leave a cup outside his room. You can’t miss it.”

He was… helping?

Hakuno hesitated.

“Of course,” the white haired man continued, “If you are so inclined, I can always simply bring you to Gudako to decide what to do with.”

She hurried over to the man without a second thought, waving her hands in front of her. “Th-that’s not necessary! I’ll go straight back to Archer’s room. I need to lay down. I think I’m just tired. I went the wrong way.”

“Ah yes,” the man nodded sagely, “I too have times where I am so tired that I want to avoid being seen by every person in the hallway and beg people to keep silent. Happens all the time.”

Was that… was that sarcasm?

Shaking her head, Hakuno turned away from the man only to feel him grab her hand.

“I assume you are Hakuno?”

“You know my name?”

“Hard to miss when Archer’s sprinting hallways and shouting it.”

Oh, she was in deep shit. She hadn’t meant to be gone that long.

“I will of course let him know that you are returning to his room,” the person replied.

“That would be great. Thank you. I owe you one.”

“Owe me. Now that’s something I don’t hear often.” The smile on the man’s face grew a little as he released her once more. “Go on. Get on with you. I’ll bring around your friend soon enough. Maybe ease his mood a little for you too.”

“Just let him know I am in his room, please… Mister...”

“I am Merlin.” The man introduced. “I hope to see you again soon, Hakuno. Perhaps when you are not tired and loath to company.”

Right.

“Goodbye, Merlin.”

She slipped her hand out of his and hurried away. For some reason that she couldn’t quite place, she didn’t really trust Merlin. Perhaps it was the way her hand tingled slightly from where he had held it. Looking down at it, she could see a flower having grown and bloomed in her fist.

Taking it into their room was out of the question. Hakuno dropped it into the goblet outside of Gil’s room and checked the rest of her person.

A couple more flowers had gotten into her hair somehow, but otherwise she was fine. She dropped the other flowers into the cup as well before slipping into Gilgamesh’s room and collapsing into bed.

Now finally alone, she could think. Why had Gudako’s contract ended with Caster? What had made him think to ask her to contract with him?

Her magic circuits were uncontrollable at times. She had no affiliation with him. It made little sense… unless he remembered their time together when he was Archer.

The door opened, a head peeking in before the man swore a stream of curses. The door was promptly locked behind him, his boots echoing off the floor as he came over to her and glared.

“You left our room.”

“I wanted to see Kid Gil, but I ended up getting lost.” Hakuno looked up at the man, smiling despite herself. Merlin had found the king rather quickly. She really did owe that man for his help. “I meant to come straight back, but I ran into your Caster self sleeping and when I woke him up, he was in need of help.”

“He can handle himself,” Archer growled. His hands ruffled at his hair as he pulled a goblet from Babylon and began to pour himself a drink. “I don’t care what he has going on. You’re still healing.”

“I’m doing fine.” Mostly.

Archer looked her over a moment before scoffing. His armor disintegrated a moment before he settled on the edge of the bed, glass set aside onto the end table. “I assume he fed you?”

“Ah- He got sidetracked.” She hadn’t even thought about the fact that she hadn’t eaten. Now, since the man had brought it up, she could feel her stomach rumbling.

“Sidetracked…” Back up he went, storming towards the door. “Insolent idiot! And you, Master. Taking pity on him! I bet he fed you some stupid story to get you into helping him. Or maybe you just liked seeing another me.”

“Where are you going?!”

“To get you food, where else? May kill my Caster self if I see him on my way there.” The king paused as he opened the door. “If you dare to leave this room before I return, I am going to chain you to that damn bed and refuse to let you leave. Last thing I need is you ending up wandering into someone out there in the area that would steal you away. You are my master, Hakuno. No one else’s.”

“And you’re Gudako’s servant.” Hakuno scowled at him. “I don’t see how helping another servant here did any harm. They’re your allies!”

“Were. They were. I lost you once, woman. I will not do it again.” Gilgamesh slammed the door shut behind himself, leaving her once again.

He would not be pleased when he saw the command seals, she thought quietly. Somehow, she would need to resolve this issue. She really needed to talk to Gudako. Gilgamesh’s current master had not been by nor had she heard anything about her other than that she was everyone’s master here.

Perhaps she should have written a note in the translations that she had done for Gilgamesh Caster. Gudako could have read through them all and came to talk to her. Or maybe Merlin could help her out again. The man had found Archer quickly. Maybe he could do the same with… No, she didn’t need to owe him more.

Maybe later she would need to try to find the mysterious master.

The servants wouldn’t think she was an enemy, would they? Merlin had been willing to listen. Caster and Kid Gil too. Then again, the kings were rather talkative in general.

What’s more, Gilgamesh had seemed upset at the thought of her leaving. Perhaps it was dangerous. There was that strange room she had found near the eating area. Caster had lost his contract while away from his room. For all she knew, there could very well be only opposition in these halls and rooms. Fighting her way out seemed unlikely though. There were so many servants.

What about Hans and Karna and the others?

Were they happy here? Would they fight against her?

She rolled over, biting her lip a little as she stared at the command spells on her hand. She’d only ever had one servant before. If Archer lost his contract while he was out, she wasn’t sure she could help him. She could try, but…

The idea of him fading away into nothingness…

It was better that she faded.

The door opened behind her as she felt something in her eyes. Blinking back the watery feeling, she glanced over to find the king holding two trays of food.

“You may praise me,” Archer declared. “I have brought you food.”

Sitting up, she nodded quietly. Her hands went behind her back, holding her up a little more while hiding the seals for another moment.

“Nothing?”

“You didn’t tell me that Gudako was your master here.”

“It is unnecessary information. I am looking into how to end my contract with her so that I can return to you. Once I have that done, we will leave. Remaining in this world is not worthwhile. Besides, we have defeated BB once again and I made sure to sever her head from her body. She won’t come back this time.”

“I see…”

The man set the tray down on the nightstand and crossed his arms. “That’s it? After all of my efforts, ‘I see’?”

“I’m worried about Gudako. I wouldn’t like losing a strong servant if I were in her position.”

The king shrugged.

“Gilgamesh-“

“She will accept it or she will not. It doesn’t concern me which path she takes. Simply that I get what I am after.”

“Are there other masters here with more than one servant?”

“More than one servant?”

“I was just thinking. There are a lot of servants here-“

“All belonging to Gudako,” the king told her dismissively. “She keeps them relegated to their rooms most of the time, although they have free reign. Usually they help around the base or watch the singularities from time to time when they’re bored and not fighting. Sometimes the master takes them to training grounds and simulations to keep their skills sharp.”

“And are there other masters? Any?”

“They died. I don’t know how. I don’t care.”

Something was definitely wrong with that information. How could all the other masters be gone? How did they all die? Her mind flickered to the room with the pods. There was monitoring equipment next to the things, like someone… Maybe the masters had been stored away? To what end?

Gilgamesh was scowling at her though. She needed to get the news over with already.

“What if I contracted with both you and another servant?”

“…What did you do, Hakuno?” The man was far too knowledgeable when it came to sensing where a conversation was going. He moved closer, eyeing her as she tried to focus.

“Caster somehow lost his contract.” She couldn’t lie to him. Hiding away the information would make matters worse. “He was fading when he appeared in his rooms. I wasn’t sure what to do. He was halfway gone-“

Archer’s hand wrapped around hers, pulling it into view and staring at the seals. “…You know your magic circuits are unstable. You remember-“

“I know. I just… You were disappearing in front of me. As soon as he appeared, I could have stuck my entire hand through his chest. All I could see was you vanishing on me again and I didn’t know what to do.”

“I am right here,” he argued. “You wandered from our chamber-“

“I know! You were also there though!” She stared up at him, unable to explain.

It had been like before, with everything fading into nothingness. Someone had needed to save him like he had her. It had been like he was being deleted. The golden king, done in by what? The lack of something she could so easily give?

The red eyes staring back at her softened, closing a moment before she felt him pull her forward. His lips pressed against hers, demanding everything, giving nothing. She could only hold onto him as she returned his demands, letting the panic of that moment before fade back into her memories. The tension slowly seeped out of her, her body melting a little against the king until she could only cling to his shirt.

“It was like when you were disappearing before. I could kill him for making you see that.”

“What happens when you disappear back to the grail, Gilgamesh? How do you wait for the next war? All I can imagine is what it was like waiting for you to rescue me from BB.”

Those eyes flickered over to meet hers, dark and demanding. “Stop thinking, master.”

She pressed herself against him further.

“You need to eat and you need to rest. I’ll sever my contract soon enough and resume where we were before.” His hands slipped beneath the fabric of her dress, stroking lightly along her spine. His authoritative tone softening as he went on. “I still need to teach you what pleasure is. Seeing as you’ve resigned yourself to my Caster self, it would seem you are in even greater need of understanding the term before he bores you to tears.”

“He is very nice to me.” As nice as one could ever imagine the king being, at any rate.

“Of course.” Gilgamesh pushed her back. Once more, she was left sitting a moment as the king set what looked to be a cinnamon roll into her lap before he heading over to one of the vats of wine to pour a second glass of wine. She was surprised when he handed it over and shrugged, “Even someone in as poor of health as my Caster self would understand the value of something as rare as you.”

She paused in midchew, staring at him.

That was probably one of the nicest things he had ever said to her.

“Master.”

“Hmm?”

The man selected an apple from one of the trays he had brought and frowned at it before looking at her. “If you decide to take on another servant in this place who is not me, I will not be pleased. Not even my younger self may possess you. I must resign myself to allowing Caster to accompany us now and that is something you will pay for soon enough.”

Chapter Text

“Master…”

Hakuno shifted, shaking a little as a cold breeze passed over her upper torso. The damn servant had stolen away her dress in the middle of the night again. She really needed to teach Archer something about finding more appropriate punishments…

Then again, kissing down her back and slowly tugging off her dress, with that look in his eyes…

“Master, you’re already blushing and I have not done anything yet. Get up.”

Hakuno yelped as she felt something pinch her side, sending her lunging for the sheets nearby. Her eyes opened, flickering to the king as she wrapped the sheets around herself and glared at him.

“Damn it, Archer! You can’t just pinch me!”

“Gudako is calling for me again,” he told her simply.

Oh.

Looking around, the reminder of where they were came flooding back. They weren’t in some luxurious hotel or on the Moon Cell. They were in Chaldea, run by the mysterious Gudako. Archer wasn’t even her servant either.

She didn’t need to think about that though.

“Can I talk to her now then?” Hakuno looked around, expecting to see a phone or video screen… Something to contact others with. Instead, the room seemed much the same.

“Command seals,” Archer clarified, as though sensing her thinking. “She’s used one to summon me and I can only avoid her for long. I assume it’s for training grounds work. While I’m away, you need to remain in here. No wandering out.”

“I’ll stay in here,” she told him simply.

“Remember, no contracts.”

“I don’t want to risk not being able to contract with you, should you need a new master.”

“No, you don’t want to risk not being able to contract with me when I rid myself of my useless contractor.” Gilgamesh pulled her close for a moment, pressing his lips to her forehead a moment before he huffed. “Insolent mongrel is still calling. I’ll return in a bit. I’ll bring more food for you as well.”

“I think I’ll be alright for now.”

Gilgamesh had brought another tray when she had finished what was on the first. As it was, there were two trays of food in the room and her stomach was aching from overeating.

She locked the door as he left, closing her eyes a moment as she tried to clear her mind of the plaguing thoughts. It was too much to think about right now. Gudako could do something to Gilgamesh when they were away at the training grounds. She could easily lose him without ever knowing. Caster had lost his contract so easily.

Gilgamesh wouldn’t be able to keep his senses if she wandered out of the room though. She needed to remain here and just wait for him to return.

What of the servants in the place though? Were the other servants that she knew alright? Hans and Robin Hood and Gawain… did they remember her?

What if they were being forced to remain here?

She couldn’t let them suffer if they were wanting to leave. She should-

But she had promised to stay.

Staying in bed was going to drive her mad. Going to the small table was hardly worthwhile, given she had the option of eating or just thinking.

Long, endless hours of thinking.

It was too much to ask her to stay in this room.

She unbolted the first lock before pausing.

Perhaps it had been her fault that Caster had lost his contract. If she wandered out and got too close to another servant, there was no telling how many would lose their contracts with their master. They didn’t deserve that.

She turned back, opting to wander through Gilgamesh’s drawers.

He only had a button up that would work for covering her up. She buttoned it into place and pushed the sleeves up, over her hands. So long as she wasn’t jumping too much, she’d be fine.

A knock at the door made her pause.

…Was it Gilgamesh?

No, he had left not too long ago.

He couldn’t have gone to the training grounds and returned so quickly. Who had battles that were simply a few minutes long?

Another knock.

It could be another servant, but should she answer? What if it was one she didn’t know. Who knew that she was here?

She took a deep breath, trying to think carefully.

If she cracked the door, just a little bit, she could see who it was and quickly shut the door again before they managed to get in. Just a small, tiny little bit. They wouldn’t expect that, would they? For all she knew, they could have assumed Gilgamesh was asleep and decided to leave. She would see them walking away after she realized she wasn’t in immediate danger.

Yes, just a crack then.

Her hand went to the door, barely, just barely, opening it.

A pair of red eyes looked down at her, one eyebrow raised slightly as he held two cups in hand. Gone was the attire from yesterday, with its small vest and slitted red pants. Today he was in a black jacket and white turtleneck. It was odd. If wasn’t for the bags under his eyes, she would have mistaken him for Archer.

Despite the fatigued look, he seemed more upbeat this morning. He looked more prepared than anyone had a right to be looking for going out and having a productive day.

“Good morning, Master,” the caster greeted. “You disappeared from my room last night and I assumed you were retrieved by Archer. Coffee?”

Clearly, he didn’t know Archer very well. The man would have thrown a fit to hell and back if he had caught sight of her curled up against the Caster when she had been with him. There would have been no reasoning with him and the two would have no doubt had a pissing contest.

Still, she couldn’t help but smile in relief at his quick dismissal and acceptance of her leaving his room without telling him.

“Caster…” She undid the last lock before pulling it open the rest of the way. “I didn’t expect to see you this morning.”

“It’s important to stay close to one’s master, is it not?” Caster stepped into the room, clicking his tongue a bit at the state of the room. The gentle waft of something somehow warm smelling and wonderful drifted from him, like an expensive perfume. She barely listened to him as she found herself leaning towards him. “It would seem you’ve been treated to nothing but a debauched lifestyle in here. Honestly, what would Archer have you do in here aside from sleep and drink?”

“I was wondering that myself a few times lately,” she admitted, shaking her head. “I don’t suppose I could persuade you to bring a book or two with you-“

A book was in her hands within a second, the coffee cup being set on top as Caster moved further into the room and settled himself down at the small table nearby. He crossed one leg over the other, taking the same kind of stance she had seen a thousand times over from the golden king.

Once more, Hakuno could only barely stop herself from simply drifting over to the king and finding out how else the two were alike.

Instead, she turned away. The locks were slowly clicked back into place, careful to ensure they were secure before making her way to the table as well. She found her place opposite him, settling into her seat and setting her gifts down so she could fix the sleeves of her stolen attire. “Thank you for the book and coffee.”

“It’s nothing to bring a book, but we should leave this room and do something useful. We could try going to the training grounds ourselves or I could be having us look through the information that I’ve gathered about singularities from servant descriptions… mostly casters. Other servants seem to think little of casters for some reason.” Those garnet colored eyes just gleamed at her, smoldering in a way that was making her stomach flutter and her body-

No, she needed to pull herself together. This wasn’t archer. This was his Caster self. She knew nothing about this man.

“I told Archer that I would remain in here today.”

“Oh?”

Hakuno nodded, lowering her gaze to the cup of coffee as she went to take a sip. Hazelnut and mocha flavor took over her senses as she tasted the first drops of the miraculous drink. Perfectly sweetened, brimming with warmth and flavor; there was nothing better than this. It was just so good… Truly, there was no one like Gilgamesh when it came to taste. The man could find gold in a pile of mud.

The man across from her simply smiled at her reaction, resting his face against one hand as he watched her enjoy her coffee.

“If it is something as simple as that, then I could bring my books here. We could spend today reading and then train tomorrow.”

Reasonable enough. “Alright… Could you find me some clothing as well?”

Another eyebrow raise.

“I-I don’t have anything to wear here,” she explained, motioning at the oversized shirt. “What I was wearing yesterday was returned to the gates of Babylon last night and Archer had to leave earlier. Since Gudako was commanding him with a seal, he didn’t have much time so I didn’t get the chance to ask him.”

“I suppose.” The man stood up, nodding. “I will think of a proper way that you can repay me for this deed at a later time, master.”

Repay?

Oh no.

Her blood was turning to ice at the very idea of owing another person around here.

“Ah- Wait!”

“Your reaction was good enough for the coffee I suppose,” he continued, moving to stand up. “The books we can work out through more translation work. You write rather nicely for someone as young as yourself. Had you been in Babylon, you would have become one of my wives within mere days of my finding you.”

“Hold on!”

The man simply sipped at his coffee, looking around and nodding. “Remain here, Master. I will return with clothing for you soon enough. Perhaps some jewelry to go with it. I have had a few ideas in mind…”

The gods hated her. Whatever ones existed, they hated her with a deep, undying passion and were making her suffer via Gilgamesh duplicates.

“WAIT,” she cried, but it was too late.

He shut the door behind himself before she could even get a word in.

He was still the same asshole as before. She should have been more careful before just jumping the gun and asking for things. He had set her all at ease and into a sense of false security and then-

No, she was best not to think about it. She had her coffee and a little time before he returned.

Part of her almost wanted to see if she could run to child Gilgamesh for help. Out of all the duplicates, he seemed like the only one that hadn’t pulled a surprise on her. Then again, the last thing she needed was for him to turn around and pull something on her. Plus he had mentioned something about taking responsibility when she had kissed him.

The kid was a bad plan through and through.

There was only one thing she could really do at the moment.

Moving back to the table, her hands went to the book, opening it quietly to the first page and taking another sip of her drink. As the warm drink went down like a soothing tonic, her eyes perused the olden text and childish images curling around the writing.

From the looks of it, the book was about old fairy tales.

The simple characters were easy to get caught up with. The plots of each tale were simple, predictable at times, but it was still entertaining to read them. A woman is locked in a tower by an evil woman only to be rescued by a man who climbs her hair. A young woman escapes the evil stepmother and step sisters after sneaking off to a ball. A man roams the woods under a bear skin and finds true love.

When the coffee was finished, she moved to the bed, stretching out against the pillows and beginning the next story. Caster was a little like the next main character, sleeping away until someone came upon them.

Then again, she wasn’t sure if Caster would ever sleep unless someone forced him into it. Plus, he would hate being compared to a hypersomnia-suffering character like that.

“Really? Of all things!” A voice practically yelled.

The book in her hands tumbled as Hakuno jumped. Her eyes shifted to the door as she heard the sound of footsteps in the distance. As she looked closer at the door, she could see it hadn’t actually been closed at all. Caster had left it ajar.

Anyone could get in.

Accompanying the footsteps, Hakuno could hear another person, who was snickering loudly. “You’re in deep trouble, Gilgamesh.”

“I don’t want to hear it from you either, Ereshkigal,” the voice that had shocked her hollered. “You are from the same time as him. You could have taught him better!”

“I don’t know,” the second replied. “He hates Ishtar. That’s always a good start if you ask me. Besides, I don’t babysit mortals.”

“I asked for clothes, women,” Gilgamesh’s voice told them. “Not chastising.”

Relief, a welcomed emotion, flooded through her at the sound of his voice. He must have found that he had required some help.

“I have clothes,” that first voice declared. “Lots of them, since you and your Archer self would prefer to leave a woman naked! Geez, and Mash said she was so little.”

The door opened, a cat eared woman stepping through with a blonde woman at her side. At the sight of her, Hakuno could see the cat eared woman hug the clothes to herself a little more. Her scowl melting into a smile.

“There you are.”

Gilgamesh motioned at the two women, sighing. “They overheard us talking, Hakuno. They were curious.”

“Not curious,” the cat woman growled, scowling up at the man. “Rightfully upset!”

“Us?” Hakuno asked, ignoring her comments.

A hand waved from behind the blonde, a blue haired man grinning as he peeked around him.

Before either man could speak, there were hands pushing at them as the women tried to make them leave. “You’re going to scare her,” the cat eared woman complained. “Get out.”

“Excuse me?” Caster gripped the doorframe against the onslaught, knuckles turning white. “You seek to push me out of my own room-“

“It’s Archer you’s room and do take Cu Caster with you,” the blonde woman told him, successfully shoving the blue haired man out. She twirled one of her twin tails in one hand as she smirked. “The last thing we need is a couple of casters in here growing things where they don’t belong.”

“We’re not all Merlin,” the man who could only be Cu Caster complained.

Growing things?

Hakuno slowly climbed to her feet, “I really don’t mind if they’re here. Caster Gil has been nothing but kind-“

“Don’t do it.” The blonde woman- Ereshkigal was she called?- shook her head. “Caster Cu’s a notorious lecher. I’ve seen how he stares after Ishtar. It’s like watching Emiya drool when she drinks his tea.”

Cu made a hand gesture at the woman before the two stuck their tongues out at one another. As they started to make a motion to go at it with one another again, Caster’s grip failed him and the cat eared woman moved into the doorway, blocking the duo from their fight. “Enough,” she declared.

“Atalanta-“

Caster’s words were drowned out.

“Out!” She shooed at the two men, closing and locking the door before she looked back at her. Ereshkigal hurried over to the door and gave it a good kick, laughing a little as the two men tried to knock and persuade their way back into the room.

Hakuno simply stared at the two women, realizing that now she was stuck with two women she didn’t know. Two women who clearly either were in either a very good relationship with Gilgamesh or would make things very difficult, very quickly.

As though sensing the anxiety over impending trouble, Cat Ears smiled her way. “Gilgamesh was talking to Cu Caster for a few minutes in the hallway when we overheard. Apparently, he asked Cu to help him teleport to his own room and Cu was curious about what happened.” The woman set a handful of dresses down on the bed next to her and set her hands on her hips. “My name is Atalanta. This is Ereshkigal.”

“I am one of the gods over Gilgamesh… or was.” The blonde smiled a little before picking up one of the dresses. “It’s hard to rule over someone who basically ran the heaven side of the underworld for a while. Until the grail took him, I thought I’d be stuck with him forever there. And he’s so bossy.” The blonde shook her head. “Anyway, we couldn’t let the Casters have all the fun today. We wanted to see the stray human ourselves.”

“I’m um… Not exactly human.” Unless being created by the Moon Cell counted for being human. And not having any memories of childhood.

“You’re just a child. Don’t let the others bully you.” Cat Ears- Or Atalanta, as she was called, waved her hand dismissively before turning to her friend. “Eresh- If you’re going to remain, you can find me a brush. There must be one nearby. What with Gilgamesh being so vain, I can’t imagine he doesn’t have one somewhere around here.”

“The opportunity to search through King Gilgamesh’s room. I almost want to steal something just to piss off Ishtar.” Ereshkigal gave a small salute before setting to work.

Hakuno shook her head, raising a hand to try to stop the blonde. “Now hold on, don’t-“

“It’s fine.” Atalanta motioned the woman on, although Ereshkigal hadn’t done so much as hesitate to yank open drawers and toss clothes this way and that. “She won’t do anything. Stand up for a minute. I need to know which will fit.”

“It’s fine. I found a shirt-“

“Just for a minute.” Atalanta pulled her to her feet without a moment’s hesitation, holding up a dress and nodding. “Perfect. Gilgamesh was right when he gave me your height. You’re about the same height that my Medea used to be years ago.” She shimmied the dress up and tossed it over her head without preamble, completely ignoring the fact that she hadn’t removed Gil’s shirt or that the dress wasn’t going down all the way.

“Medea?”

“She was a friend of mine. Still is, but we don’t really talk anymore. I think you’ve probably seen her around Caster Gilgamesh. The two enjoy doing odd Caster odd and end things around here.” She smiled. “You’ve been in here for so long, you probably don’t know anyone here, do you?”

“Just Gilgamesh, his duplicates, and a couple others.” Hard to mention anyone other than Merlin by name when she had not really stopped to chat.

“I can get you some painkillers for dealing with the golden trio if you need something for the headaches,” Ereshkigal offered.

The other servant rolled her eyes, “Did you find a brush?”

Hakuno ignored their bickering that ensued, unbuttoning the shirt a moment before she fixed the dress into place quietly. How odd. She hadn’t thought Caster would have any friends in Chaldea. Archer had been so against the idea.

“What do you mean he doesn’t have a brush,” Atalanta growled.

“There’s just more wine.”

“What kind of idiot just keeps wine in his room?”

“The drunk kind.” Ereshkigal replied, shaking her head. “I don’t know. I don’t spend time with him and you know that.”

“Ugh, well can you just go-“

A brush dropped from a gateway, landing on the bed nearby. Having seen several brushes from Gilgamesh’s gates, it was easily recognizable. The gold handle and cuneiform writing was unmistakable.

“Thank you, Gilgamesh,” she called while the other two women paused their argument.

A snickering came from the other side of the door as Ereshkigal stormed over to the door and slammed it shut once more. The two men had most likely slowly been working it open. Brilliant as Caster was, she had no doubt that the man had managed to hear every single piece of conversation.

“Damn casters,” Ereshkigal growled. “When will they ever fucking learn to keep out. Probably wanted to interrupt us… or worse, Cu Caster wanted to spend time with me again.”

The blonde shuddered about that, making Hakuno wonder.

“It’s fine.” Atalanta picked up the brush and tested the weight. “It’ll do, I guess. It’s not as nice as the set I have, but I can’t ask for too much.”

Not as nice as the set she had? Was she a god? Gilgamesh made most things look like cheap knockoffs. Anyone doubting the niceness of something of his was rather… Well…

“Miss…” Atalanta leaned a little closer, her brows furrowing. “Are you alright?”

“Oh… I never got the chance to introduce myself.” She looked over her shoulder and smiled. “My name is Hakuno Kishinami. You can just call me Hakuno.”

“Well, since you’re here, you must be thinking about becoming another savior for humanity.”

“Hmm?”

“That’s why we’re all here, after all.” Atalanta began to brush her hair, her eyes trained on what she was doing as she went. “Gudako and Mash have been working to save humanity through one singularity at a time.”

“I don’t really know what I’m going to do here. I’ve been trying to heal.”

“I heard about that. Do you know what happened to you?” Ereshkigal asked.

“I was with Gilgamesh when the place we were at was attacked. I don’t know too much about what happened after that. Gilgamesh found me and brought me here.”

“No unpleasant questions, Eresh.”

“It’s fine.” Hakuno looked up again, finding her head pushed back into facing forward.

“Stop moving please.”

“Sorry.”

“You could summon servants as well and fight alongside us,” Ereshkigal offered. As Atalanta continued to brush out her hair, the blonde came over to her side and settled into a sitting position next to her. Those bright eyes and Rin-like face were all disconcerting a bit. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. “It would be nice to have another master to help. I know Gudako gets so tired sometimes. There’s always something happening and she never gets to rest. She’s lost most everyone close to her too. It’s been pretty much just her, Mash, and all of us servants. With two of you, we could tag team the battles and get through the singularities so much faster.”

“I’ll have to see what Gudako thinks. I still haven’t met her.” From the sound of it, Gudako wasn’t actually too bad either. Maybe her worries had been unwarranted.

“Master’s a great person,” Ereshkigal cooed. “You’ll get along with her. I feel like the two of you will have a lot in common.”

Atalanta scoffed. “She is great, but I don’t think she would like you fighting. She protects children from battle, not sends them in.”

“I’m not really that young.”

Before they could argue any further, Gilgamesh was opening the door, strolling in and nodding at the sight of them all. “Suitable. I commend you for the assistance, women. Ereshkigal, Ishtar seems to be requesting your presence. Something about a missing set of jewels…”

“Gilgamesh thanking us.” Ereshkigal grinned, standing up. “Amazing things do happen every day. I’m going to get something to eat and watch the training going on.”

Atalanta glared at her. “Don’t ignore your sister! You stole from her again, didn’t you?”

The blonde just smirked, whipping her hair over her shoulders as she strolled out the door. “Maybe.”

With a heavy sigh, Atlanta’s arms encircled Hakuno’s waist. “I think I’ll stay here.”

“My master and I have things to discuss,” Caster argued.

“Hakuno,” Atalanta corrected, hugging her a bit more, “and I are bonding. You should not think yourself so mighty, Caster. Archers are notoriously strong servants.”

The man’s eyes narrowed.

“It’s fine.” Hakuno looked up at her, pulling herself from the woman’s arms. “I want to spend time with Gilgamesh for a while. I appreciate you coming to help me though. It’s nice to have another friend around here.”

The woman paused, ears twitching a little before she was pulled into another one of her hugs. “You are far too sweet for an old man and an arrogant jerk. My room is not far from here. If you ask anyone, they’ll be able to give you directions. Don’t hesitate to visit me if you need anything. We’re friends after all.” Her gaze turned to Gilgamesh, darkening. “I also don’t care for when people try to use sweet children for their games either.”

Didn’t that just speak of confidence in poor Gilgamesh. Hakuno just ignored the whole barb, shaking her head. “Thanks, Atalanta.”

The woman brushed passed Caster, nudging his arm. “Be nice to her.”

“I have done nothing otherwise during the time of our acquaintance,” the man replied simply.

She didn’t seem to care at all for what he said, walking through the door a moment before Gilgamesh closed it.

Alone with him again, Hakuno found she couldn’t actually look at him for long. Once more, she was left to notice his attire, the smooth expression on his face, and that fatigued look under his eyes. Again, she was debating on whether or not to motivate him into a nap.

When he turned to look at her after locking the door, Hakuno turned.

“She left the rest of the dresses behind,” Hakuno busied herself, picking up the collection only to feel the man move behind her. A hand moved through her hair a moment, lightly massaging her scalp before moving lower. Those hands were soon around her waist, pulling her in close. Her back was to his front. The man was so warm.

“Leave them,” he told her simply. “She wanted to ensure you were clothed.”

“This is far too kind. I should find my own clothing. I just needed something for now. Besides, what if she needs them?”

The man’s voice was closer now. She could almost feel his breath on her neck as he spoke to her. “Do you think she would have brought you clothing that she needed? You heard her. She wanted to ensure that you were properly clothed and not being harassed by my Archer self.”

“She seemed concerned about both you and Archer.”

Once more, the man remained neutral. He was far different at times than his Archer self. Archer would have taken the opportunity to throw slander in the direction of anyone in his way. He would have taken the moment to defend himself by insulting Atalanta. She was too insistent on her not fighting. She was strange because she had cat ears. She wasn’t sure what, but the king would have found some way to make it seem like Atalanta was one to be able to complain about anything.

Instead, Caster was… tamer.

His arms simply held her in place, his head resting on the top of her own as they remained motionless. Each moment that went passed was filled with an emptiness.

Soon, Hakuno was starting to actually question whether Atalanta should have made that comment in regards to Caster at all. The more the silence ensued, the more Hakuno found herself trying to think of something more in the cat eared woman’s defense. She had her heart in the right place, after all… didn’t she? She was a sweet person, wasn’t she? No one that wasn’t sweet would bring her clothes and offer to let her visit, right?

It wasn’t convincing at all now that she was thinking about it. Caster hadn’t done anything wrong. Atalanta’s departing words felt more useless by the minute.

“Caster?” Hakuno looked up at him, leaning back against his chest.

“Yes, Master?”

She couldn’t stop herself from pressing a hand to his cheek. Caster Gilgamesh really was too much like Archer. The sight of those eyes closing as she cupped his cheek had that odd warm feeling back in her chest. “You wanted to do something today?” she asked.

“Hmm?” Those tired eyes opened back up, clouded in confusion a moment before he was nodding. “Oh, yes. I did, didn’t I.” He pulled away, hands trailing along her person for a moment before he brought about the gates of Babylon. The scrolls and tablets clattered onto the table as he headed over to have a seat. He crossed his legs haphazardly, motioning her to join him. “Since you have agreed so loyally to Archer that you would remain in these chambers, then we shall work in here. I noted your handwriting exceeds expectations, so I shall have you write things into this language from my homeland’s language.”

“I’m not able to read everything.”

He paused. “I understand that you were able to read most of what I had written down when you were working yesterday, correct?”

“I guessed a few words, but I could read a good amount of it.”

He pulled her chair from before to his side before motioning for her to sit. With little option, she settled in only to find a tablet in front of her. “We’ll begin by analyzing how well your reading is then. I’ll teach you what is needed and then we will be able to work far more diligently. Tomorrow, we can go to the training grounds… so long as you are healthy.”
“I should be fine.” The soreness was still there, but the room was closing in at this point. She needed any excuse to leave, even if it was to fight. She’d just not do too much sprinting.

“Then we shall train physically tomorrow and today we will train mentally.”

“Alright… I suppose we should get started then.”

It was like everything had changed in the course of one evening. While the first tablet seemed legible, the following few were more obscure. The dots and lines that Gilgamesh had tormented her with during their time together on the far side of the Moon Cell were suddenly less and less readable. The patterns turned more and more into simple scribbles and mistakes.

“It is fine. I wrote these when tired. You’ll grow accustomed to reading my penmanship soon enough. Continue.”
Continue.

Continue?

Memories of Archer holding her on his lap and biting her shoulder when she messed up a word in translation came flooding back. Continuing was a hassle, even when the man yanked her out of her seat and onto his lap. Soon enough, she was listening to the same comments as before, his gaze narrowed in the same impatient and annoyed manner as Archer.

“Slow down,” she begged him.

“You need to understand how to read this, Master. Pay attention here.”

Text after text after text.

She leaned against him further, feeling him bite her neck lightly as she shut her eyes.

“Pay attention, Hakuno.”

The damn kings were truly all the same. She was now back in translation hell: seat for one. Truly, she must have wronged a god or goddess out there somewhere and this was revenge: purgatory with King Gilgamesh teaching you Sumerian.

“I’m trying to pay attention,” she told him weakly. “Give me a break.”

The man straightened her posture, moving a hand to her lap. “Do you require better motivations than simply assisting your servant, then?”

Better motivations? Than biting?

Hakuno looked over her shoulder at him, watching those eyes darken.

“What kind of motivation?”

If he brought sweets instead of biting her, she was open to translating a few more tablets… Maybe accompanied with giving him a lecture about the joys of naps and sleeping. Truly, his writing when not tired compared to his writing when tired were night and day.

Rather than offers of sweet foods and honeyed drinks, his fingers moved slowly up her thigh, tracing indecipherable patterns. His mouth went to her ear. “We can try this method,” he purred. “I can promise you’ll pay great attention at the end.”

“N-No! No.” She leaped from his lap immediately, tablet still in hand as she drifted over towards the bed. It was away from him. Nevermind what thoughts were lingering in the darkest depths of her mind. There were far, far too many red flags going off in her head right now. He was trying to do something she’d never- oh no. She wasn’t doing that. Nope. “I will try writing it all down. That’s probably the problem. I’m trying to read without taking notes. My fault. It won’t happen again.”

“Hakuno…”

“It’s f-fine, Caster. Let me just grab some paper.“ Maybe she could call Atalanta over to the room to help with him. The man was too potent. She should have known something like this would happen when she was practically sniffing him earlier.

“You’re a virgin, then?” The devil dared to assume, those red eyes glinting with that same unreadable emotion as when she had cupped his cheek. “Has my Archer self not rectified this situation?”

A deep, unending warmth encompassed her face. The room had heated up by several degrees. There wasn’t enough space in this room anymore. She was too close to Caster. She needed a window for some fresh air or something. Maybe a long walk into the frozen tundra outside.

Damn him, but the man was leaning in his chair, watching her knowingly. His sweater was caught, pulling it taut over his chest.

She really didn’t need to notice that.

“This is resolvable right now, you know.”

“It’s not an issue so it doesn’t need resolved.”

Turning away from him would be a mistake. Staring him in the eyes would end up being her undoing. She focused on the wall just behind his head, not quite glaring but-

“Interesting.”

“It’s nothing to concern yourself over. It’s fine.”

The man tilted his head a little more, getting into her view again. “No, not your state of purity. Rather your lack of concern in staring me down. It would seem I am not the only arrogant one here.”

He was moving again, standing up and crossing the room. Her grip on the tablet in her hands tightened slightly, eyes trailing up his person to meet his gaze.

“So defiant,” he tilted her head back further. That face was drifting too close to hers. The room was closing in. There was nowhere to go. She couldn’t back down. Her heart was racing in her ears. Her body was moving onto its tip toes as he came closer and closer.

Every tick of the clock was an hour from one another, simply bringing them together. The tablet was cutting into her hands from how hard she was holding onto it. She wouldn’t notice if she was even bleeding at this point. Her heart was beating so loud.

“Such a defiant, innocent master I have,” the man breathed, a meager hair’s width from her lips. Her eyes closed, willing it to simply happen. There was no denying what was about to occur. Damn the king and that Charisma.

Something unlatched nearby and Hakuno paused, eyes opening once more. She looked up at the Caster pulling away. His eyes had drifted to the door as the locks were shifted immediately. The door opened without further preamble.

The original himself walked in, his eyes scanning the scene before him before narrowing.

“Caster.”

“Archer.”

“I see that you have been keeping my Hakuno busy.” Archer strolled into the room in full eminence, closing the door behind himself. “Despite your insolence for coming yet again far too close to my master, it’s good that I have you here. Gudako informed me that you found a method of removing yourself from being her servant.”

“I did.”

Wait.

Hakuno stared up at the man at that. He’d done what now?

“And what magic did you use to accomplish that,” Archer demanded.

“A trade secret, I’m afraid.” The man’s hand was combing through her hair, expression as calm as ever. “Can’t have Gudako finding my master to be a threat to the setup that she has created in this place. Besides, I’m sure she enjoys having her Archer at her beck and call.”

“I am Hakuno’s servant,” Archer replied testily.

“Are you?” The man in front of her smiled slightly. “How amusing. Do you say this out of outrage that you have not stolen away my master’s chastity or simply because you are unhappy that you have no choice in these matters of master and servant contracts?”

Oh no.

Hakuno moved to stand between them immediately.

“Don’t you dare consider touching my Hakuno!”

No. No. No.

Caster went to speak, earning a hand over his mouth as Hakuno went with the first thought in mind. If he couldn’t speak around her hand, he couldn’t fight.

“Hakuno, what are you doing?” Archer scowled at her.

Caster’s lips pressed against her hand, something warm and wet-

Her hand withdrew from his mouth immediately, body moving several steps towards Archer as she gaped at him.
“D-Did you just lick my hand?”

The man laughed, an Archer-like laugh through and through. “Accusing a king of something so childish, you’re audacious for a master, Hakuno. Perhaps that’s another reason I am quite fond of you.”

Archer stepped forward now, a couple gates forming around the Caster before Hakuno wrapped her arms around the king.

“Gilgamesh!”

“What?”

“Don’t start a fight.” The last thing they needed was Gudako seeing Caster beat up by Archer. Or the other way around. She didn’t want to know who was the better fighter.

“Hakuno, he played on your good nature. Made you believe he was in need of a contract-“

“I think now would be a good time for me to meet Gudako.”

The tension of the room vanished in an instant. Caster’s attention went to his books and tablets, waving her off with some muttering about fatigue as he gathered up his reading materials. Archer’s arms wrapped around her body tightly, face pressing to her neck to distract her.

“Gudako just finished fighting, Hakuno. She needs to rest, as do you.”

“He’s right, Master,” Caster agreed. “Leave her alone for now. Later, when you are feeling better and we have more time, we can meet with her. Besides, you and I have work to do on your Sumerian reading.”

“My Hakuno can read fine. I taught her myself,” Archer argued. “Besides, we need to discuss contract removals.”

“Later, if I am feeling amicable. You may have taught my master to read, but she cannot read a great deal. There’s still much for her to learn. Although, I cannot expect someone so distracted by Sabers to understand.”

The man ducked under an attack, heading for the door with that quip in. As his laugh echoed down the hallway, Archer slammed the door shut, barely letting her get her footing since he had lugged her the whole way over to the door.

And with the door shut, the king’s eyes drifted over her.

“Are these clothes his?”

“Hmm?”

Archer motioned at the dress, “Did you receive these from him?”

“N-no. Atalanta gave them to me.”

“Ah, the child protector.” Gilgamesh nodded before tugging her along.

“Where are you taking me now?! You just got back.”

“I need to bathe and see if he has done anything to you.”

“He just had me read with him. That’s all. You can bathe on your own!”

There was no having it with him. The dress dropped the moment they crossed the threshold into his private bath. The tub began to pour on its own, Gilgamesh’s arms wrapping around her the moment his armor disappeared from his person.

“How does he know of your chastity?” The man growled.

“Because he touched my thighs and then he guessed… NOT LIKE THAT!” She could already see the ire coming to his features. He was assuming they had gone further. Her hands went to his cheeks immediately, holding his face close. “He just was trying to get me to keep reading and thought being as perverted as you would work. You can be horribly perverted, you know!”

“No one touches you but me.”

She pursed her lips, waiting for him to be sensible. She was always waiting for him to be damn sensible, it seemed. Why he had to be such a stubborn idiot at times like this, she would never know. There he was though. Stubborn as ever.

Come to think of it, Caster was basically him. It wasn’t that bad for him to be around her.

The anger of his changed though, morphing into his trademark smirk that had the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. His hands drifted lower, crossing over her butt before she could prepare herself for the chaos to come.

“Are you positive that you want to accuse me of perversion, my master? I, who has so often seen your eyes drifting over me.” He seemed to push her into him more, mouth going to her ear only to nip lightly. “You, so I so often find curling up against me, like a flower reaching out towards the heavens.”

“You’re so damn bright it’s like avoiding the sun,” she sulked. “and I don’t look at you any different than I did when we first met.”

She could almost picture his eyes closing, taking the comments in stride as one of his hands seemed to just- slip- right in between her legs.

“Gilgamesh…”

The warning tone meant nothing. A rough hand cupped at the space between her legs, reaching up to-

“Pervert.” She pressed her face to his neck, listening to the laugh a moment before she was picked up. “Go ahead,” Hakuno found herself telling him. “You won’t do it.”

“Hmm? You think I won’t take you right here?”

“It’s not your style,” she murmured. “If we were in your bed, I’d worry, but you won’t do it here. You’re too big on making everything over the top. You live to watch me get surprised and take in too much at once. Cold tile is a poor comparison.”

He cackled, hoisting her up into his arms and climbing into the tub.

The bluff had been called after all. He had no need to argue or torment her further.

“After your bath, I want to wander out.” Hakuno demanded, looking over at him as water splashed over the sides of the golden tub.

“You’re still healing.”

“I just want to walk around a little. I want to know where you’ve been for all this time. I want to see what you’ve seen. You know where I’ve been.”

Gilgamesh frowned, sinking deeper into the water as he leaned back. “She kept you there the whole time?”
“It’s all I remember.”

“…Have you been having trouble remembering things?” Panic seemed to enter his voice at that question, making her pause.

Despite the frustrations, he was still concerned about what was going on with her mental health. Whether he was remembered or not. Whether she remembered what they had gone through together. She nodded without further hesitation. “I was worried about that myself, but everything’s still there. I remember everything, I think.”

“Good.” He shut his eyes, shifting a little before he held out a hand. “Come here.”

“Gil-“

“I went out and fought mindless beasts for hours on end with a woman whom I had attempted in vain to replace you with. Rather than cheapening my time further, I wish to partake in the comforts of that which is mine. My master.”

Her stomach churned at the words, body moving to his. His fingers buried themselves into her hair, other arm wrapping once more around her waist. Once again, his old tongue slipped through, words going in one ear and out the other without any comprehension.

“Gudako has been good to you, hasn’t she?”

“I don’t wish to speak of it further, Hakuno. Let me enjoy my simple pleasures.”

Simple pleasures, huh?

The mirrors in the room were soon fogged up from the steam of the bath. Two glasses of wine soon dropped from the Gates of Babylon, landing next to the bath as the king held her in his arms. Her body seemed to melt against the king’s side as he indulged himself in his favorite port.

“Do you have friends here?” Hakuno asked after a while.

“Friends.” He snorted. “I have acquaintances, woman. I have no need for friendship. You know this.”

“What are your so called acquaintances like then?”

The man sipped at his drink, smirking to his glass slightly before he spoke up. “They are interesting. I have enjoyed gathering up only those that you would find interesting as well. One was someone who I partook in a war with previously. He’s a rider who enjoys many of the same joys of war as we do. Always nice for someone to understand when one needs to kill another and take everything possible. There’s also another rider and king whom thinks himself nearly my equal. If you can believe such arrogance. Smitten with his wife though. The foolish mongrel.”

“You give the worst impressions of people.”

“I speak of what I’ve encountered,” he replied. Those red eyes drifted to hers as he narrowed his gaze. “Do you dare deny whom I’ve met?”

Hakuno shook her head.

“Drink your wine, Master. I did not pour good wine just for you to waste it.”

She sipped, taking smaller sips than him as he thought for a moment.

“Let’s see. Others of interest here… I cannot think of much else.”

“Two people… You didn’t try to spend time with your other selves-“

“Ha. Them. Would you spend time with your other halves? You had other halves that were interested in others, if you remember…”

She took a larger sip. Touché.

“I see your point,” she relented. “Your other halves are far more amicable than mine were.”

“They are from me, therefore possessing better taste than most. I cannot blame them for their interest, merely hate them for being in my way. Especially Caster.” He added that last bit with another long swig of his drink, draining the goblet before setting it aside. “You seem to enjoy reminding me of them.”

“I was just curious. My other halves were away from us. I thought it might be interesting to have them around to talk to. I was curious if you tried.”

“You’re always curious,” he replied, mouth moving to her neck. The feel of his lips moving over her skin could be felt as he went on. “What did you think about when BB had you?”

He was cutting to deep questions. Most likely in revenge for making him unhappy. “I was just waiting for you. I didn’t think about anything.”

“In all that time? Not a single thing?” Pure seduction riddled each word, the purr of the questions going over like the wine and the warmth of the bath had done already to her body. She almost melted, almost just gave in.

“You took your time,” she countered, avoiding the questions only to earn a laugh.

“Someone didn’t leave me a good trail to follow.”

“Next time I’ll cut whoever tries to take me and make a bloody path.”

He snickered. “I rub off on you in such interesting ways, Master. Cut an underling. I want the pleasure of killing whoever dares to steal you from me myself.”

His mouth began to suck on a particularly sensitive spot of her neck, making her close her eyes.

Grade A charisma. Gilgamesh was someone who had taken so many wives. It was easy to understand how when he behaved this way. Staying strong against it was a challenge in and of itself though. Giving in to him would be like walking into flames.

Better not to.

“Master,” Gilgamesh grinned against her shoulder, “you haven’t finished your wine yet.”

“Better to keep my wits. You seem to still be thinking about earlier.”

“Earlier? I don’t know what you mean.” His hands moved up her waist, finding their way to her chest that he had complained about far too often.

“I’m not going to do that right now.”

“What if I persuaded you to do whatever it is that you think I’m in the mood for?” His voice was so soft now.

Was it the wine making her body so sensitive to his touch?

“Did you put something in the water here, Gil?”

“Some oils, simple things. You have been indulging in a very potent wine though.” He nipped again at her neck, the same spot as before but harder. Her toes curled in the depths of the water.

Great.

“I want to wander out after we finish this bath,” she told him again.

“Later. After we discuss some things.”

“If that’s the case, then I want to talk to Gudako. I feel bad about the whole situation with Caster. I want to make sure she knows that I didn’t mean to contract with him. He was vanishing and-“

“You’re ruining the mood, Hakuno.”

“And I want to make sure that she knows that I will help her in whatever way I can if she needs assistance. I’m sure we can return Caster to her if she needs him.”

Gilgamesh groaned, pulling away and letting his hands fall. “Damn it, mongrel. You’ve ruined my mood.”

“I’m telling you-“

“I know, and what will you tell Caster? You intend to abandon a part of me for abandoning a master who paid no attention to him for someone who will spend all of her time with him?”

“You didn’t want me contracting with him!”

“I didn’t. I don’t like it now, but he is a part of me and the very thought of you leaving me is pissing me off.” He moved to climb out of the tub, pulling a towel from nearby around his waist.

“I’m not- I didn’t mean I would abandon him like that! I’m just saying that if he was so necessary here, I would of course want to have him be of assistance! I’m not going to steal away servants!”

Why was he being so stubborn about this!? He had wanted her to end the contract with Caster, hadn’t he?

“And what of me?”

“Huh?” Weren’t they talking about his Caster self already?

“Do you intend to steal me away from Gudako, my Hakuno? Do you want to take me?”

“I… You are different.”

“Oh?” He raised one prominent brow at that, waiting.

“I don’t intend to steal you. I merely need to talk to Gudako about having you back. We have an agreement with one another after all.” She brushed at her hair a little, watching him. “You and I have things to do and worlds to explore still.”

“And if she doesn’t give me up?”

She couldn’t say that she would take him. She didn’t know Gudako. If the woman had so many servants, there was no reason why she couldn’t simply allow her to travel with Gilgamesh and return at times when he was needed. She wouldn’t steal him, just… borrow for times.

“It is too much to ask you to admit such a selfish want, isn’t it?” Gilgamesh smiled, a condescending kind of look except for the eyes, still glinting with some unreadable look in them. “You are so close, my Hakuno. It’s right there, waiting for you to reach out and grasp it. You could have all of me in the palm of your hand.”

“I am well aware of your kingliness hanging there.”

His laughter rang out again, making her close her eyes and curse mentally. It was hard to avoid seeing it when she was trying to look down, away from his face. The man and his nudity. He couldn’t even keep his damn towel wrapped around him very well…

“I will allow us to partake in a meal outside of this room, I suppose. If only since you’ve bolstered my mood once more.” He grinned. “You may praise me for it later. Perhaps where my kingliness hangs if you are so apt to take note of it.”

“You don’t need praise, you compliment yourself.”

“Come on, Hakuno. Dinner is going to be served soon enough. I need to still dress you in something suitable. The Child Protector’s clothing is a far cry from suitable.”

“It’ll be fine.”

The man was already tossing the clothes she had received into Babylon though, vanishing back into the bedroom.

She polished off the wine glass before climbing out after him.

Chapter Text

Damn him.

Damn him and every inch of his golden kingship.

Hakuno kept close behind the golden king as they moved along the hallway. The gentle clicking of her shoes and swishing of her jacket were accompanied by the gentle tinkling sound of gold. Having spent the last hour arguing over the choice of attire he had pulled from Babylon, she was about ready to cut her loses and just beat the king for this.

Nothing ostentatious, she had asked. Something simple.

The clothing she had received from Atalanta had fulfilled those requirements. They were white and plain. Cute, but not too revealing.

Immediately, the cheetah print jacket had come out. She didn’t dare look at the rest of the pile. She was too preoccupied. His old jacket from before was lying on top and she knew for a fact that there was no way in hell she was going to be wearing it.

“Gilgamesh, no.”

He crossed his arms.

“You said something simple. This is simple.”

“It’s too much. Don’t you have my school uniform or one of the moon cell dress-“

“I won’t escort you anywhere in anything like that.”

“Something simpler?”

He raised a brow. “You have not looked nor touched the other clothes.”

She sighed, moving forward and lifting the other clothes up. The skirt looked tight. Probably a bit more adult than her other outfits had been. The blouse… well.

She needed to grip it tight to keep a hold of it and it looked like it didn’t button up passed the halfway point. Her chest would be on full display.

“You’re being finicky,” the man complained.

“It’s going to be too much.”

“I haven’t even pulled out jewelry.”

A necklace gleamed against her neck now as she followed him down the hall, a bracelet against her wrist as she held onto Gilgamesh’s shirt. He had altered his jacket for her, somehow possessing a pair of matching shoes for her to wear as well. The man had planned this. Through and through. He had decided everything while she had been away, knowing in some strange way of his that she would be back at his side.

“Have you changed your mind?” Gilgamesh looked over his shoulder at her, waiting.

“It’s fine. Let’s just hurry up.”

The man just laughed, walking once again down the corridors.

This was most likely a big mistake, but there was no reason to remain in that room forever. Unless she pushed them to move forward, they would hide away for days at a time until either Gudako grew tired of sharing Gilgamesh or something else happened.

She would honestly go stir crazy remaining hidden away in his room.

“Gilgamesh!”

Hakuno ducked behind the man again, turning around to look around him. A blonde woman came storming their way.

Adorned in an armor covered blue dress, the woman didn’t stop until she was right before the man, glaring up at him. Her eyes didn’t deviate from the man as she kept her hands on her hips.

“Saber,” he greeted casually, as though the woman did not possess an eerie resemblance to Nero. “Whatever it is that you wish to discuss, I have plans in place with my master and I have no time for you. Run along.”

“Why is Bathory saying that you hurt our master? She says she overheard you hurting Gudako after the latest area that you went to.”

“I have done nothing of the sort. I don’t know what nonsense the filth you associate with have claimed, but your master is intact, mentally and physically.”

“So you didn’t abandon her?”

“I have done nothing like that yet.”

Yet.

There was no getting around that lovely key phrase. The woman in front of him was getting closer to a temper. If she was anything like Nero, it would mean that she would act first, think later. There was nothing more insulting than threatening a master that another servant was devoted towards.

“You would just abandon her like trash, for what? A few hours of indulgence?”

Hakuno bit her lip at that. Those were unwise words to go with. At least, for Gilgamesh at any rate. The man looked down his nose at her, gaze narrowing. ”Do you wish to test my good nature and interest in you so boldly, king of knights? Do you think I will simply turn the other cheek because of your radiance?”

They were going too far. Hakuno ran a hand up his back, stroking lightly only for him to take a step closer to the blonde king of whatever.

“You have something more to say?” he asked.

“Where do I even begin with you,” Saber retorted, eyeing him with nothing less than disdain written across her face. “Shall we start with your interest in anything that is remotely blonde and young or with the fact that your disgusting tastes become worse when intoxicated? Does your little toy know you chase skirts when their away?”

“Hakuno,” Gilgamesh looked over his shoulder, eyes ablaze as he lifted her up and carried her to the end of the hall. “Return to our room. I will be back in a moment.”

“Don’t do-“

“Return to our room, Hakuno.”

“You never could get anyone to listen to you, not even your master in the grail war we were in together,” the taunting woman down the hall called. “I wouldn’t listen either, knowing you’re no better than Ishtar. It’s a shame that everyone tells Gudako to just burn you already.”

They were running before she could even tell Gilgamesh to calm down, disappearing around a corner with only the sounds of crashing and chaos going on behind them.

If Gilgamesh had gone so far as to make everyone hate him, then his master had needed to address it immediately. Without hesitation. He didn’t sit well with being the last to know and he didn’t take slights. There was too much wrong with how situations in this place were handled. The longer she was here, the more she could only agree with Archer: Chaldea was no place for them.

She would find Gudako and request Archer be released to her. There were enough servants here to fight all the wars in the world.

Her mind revolved around that idea as she hurried down the halls further in the direction the two servants had disappeared.

Something shifted on the side of her vision, collapsing against the wall as she glanced its way. Its small, blue belly moved erratically. Its faceless head lay uselessly against the floor.

Was it a cat? A beast?

For some reason, she was hesitating.

A soft yowling escaped the thing as it twitched awkwardly. With it, instinct kicked in.

The situation with Gilgamesh and Saber could wait. They were going to fight whether or not she tried to stop them or not. Trying to stop them would only result in someone being harmed. Most likely her.

She moved slowly towards the small animal, pulling off the jacket Gilgamesh had given her to wrap around its body. Were it an enemy, she wanted to be sure not to put herself into direct harm. But the beast didn’t respond to her moving it, merely continuing to lay uselessly in the fabric as she picked it up.

There had to be an infirmary around here somewhere.

Gilgamesh had brought her bandages and medicine. If that was the case, then there was at least a supply closet around.

With that in mind, she moved forward, heading through the halls and around corners. Once more she felt herself on edge, looking back only to see nothing. The facility that they were in, however big it was, it was to the point where she never saw much of anyone.

Something akin to being watched tickled at her senses. Like someone was closeby, viewing what she was doing carefully.

She began trying doors, opening cleaning closets and empty rooms whenever the doors would work. Often, the rooms wouldn’t even have a made bed in them.

Perhaps the master that remained here thought about more servants?

Maybe these rooms had been the rooms of old masters who had died?

Somehow both options felt morbid.

Looking down from time to time at the small beast in her arms, Hakuno could only quicken her pace. It was wounded for sure. She didn’t want to look where. The pressure was probably the only thing that was keeping it breathing… however it breathed.
The sense of being watched never lessened.

Whatever this beast was, it didn’t even complain as she hunted almost uselessly for a hospital room of some sort. It didn’t cry out or whine. It didn’t even shift in her arms. Just breathed.

A small part of her could only feel like this was the collateral of what Gilgamesh’s and Saber’s fight had brought about. The two of them had been so caught up in feelings of someone else and defending their own pride that they had disregarded any and everything around. And now this little creature was suffering.

The damn idiots.

“Finally!”

A set of beds and cabinets appeared before her, blocked slightly by cloth dividers. The metal stands for IV fluids and the medicine bottles in the cabinet were a surefire sign that they were in the right place. At long last.

“Come on, little one.” Hakuno moved it onto the table, unwrapping its body slowly only to wince.

The gash was bad, but not deep. It needed to be sewed up.

She had seen one of the others do it before. It was something that hadn’t looked hard, but…

The thought of sewing a living being was almost too much to think about.

A small cry emanated from the critter, its gold and blue head lifting up, as though looking up at her.

“I’ve never done this before…” Hakuno looked around, peeking back in the hall before she shut her eyes. There was no one around. Nothing. If the thing was going to live, it would require attention and it would require it now. Otherwise the gash would just be jostled every time it moved until it did tear itself open enough to be in critical condition.

She pulled the thread and needle from a drawer at the desk, threading it carefully before she moved back to the beast’s side and stroked its head lightly.

“This is going to hurt… I don’t know what to do other than warn you. If you bear with me for a little bit though, you’ll be able to move around again.”

She would put a bandage over the wound afterwards, just to be safe.

A drop of blood formed as she pinched the wound shut and began with the first stitch. The small cry that began to emerge from the little thing tore right through her nerves. It just kept going, crying and crying in front of her as she tried to help it. Her stomach churned, the blood going onto the jacket and table a little as she continued.

There was no stopping now either.

The sooner that she finished, the sooner that the beast could rest and feel better. She had to keep going. It would get better. It always ended better for situations like this.

She couldn’t consider the alternative.

Her vision was swimming as she got closer to the other end of the gash, the thread barely available soon enough. A small thought came to her mind, of having to stop and tie it before beginning again. If that were the case, she would never be able to finish. Her stomach would refuse to work with her. She would end up crying in a heap on the floor.

The end came though and she was through. Lightly running her fingers along the wound, she nodded gently. It was done. She turned to grab a bandage only to have it held out.

“Ah-“

The brunet looked down at her, waiting.

“Th-Thank you.” She pulled the bandage from his hands and turned, covering the wound carefully before taping it into place.

“What are you doing, little one?”

“I found this cat in the hall. I couldn’t leave it so I brought it here.”

“Sphynx.”

“Hmm?”

The man lifted the creature up from the table and pulled it into his arms, stroking its back gently. “It’s a sphynx. A small kitten still, but a sphynx no less. Its parent was looking for it.”

A newborn then?

Hakuno sighed, smiling a little in relief more than anything. This man knew where it belonged. He could return it to where it was supposed to be without any further delay.

“You did not know?”

“It looks like a full grown cat… kind of. I just didn’t want it to suffer.”

“You would help it despite the idea that it could be an enemy?”

“It was hurt. What would you have done?”

The man leaned forward, continuing to comfort the sphynx in his arms as he regarded her more carefully. Under those golden eyes, it felt more like her very soul was being analyzed. It was almost like he could read every moment of her life in an instant with that gaze.

It was disconcerting, if anything.

“Is your heart so soft that another’s pain hurts you so?” He asked.

“Hmm?”

“You are crying.”

Her face was wet. Wiping at the tears, she shook her head. “I’m sorry. It’s from doing the stitching. I’ve never had to do that before and I couldn’t do anything about the sphynx’s pain. The poor thing was just crying out and I couldn’t do anything to make it hurt less. I just had to keep going… I thought it was going to hurt itself more.”

“And so you weep?”

“It deserves to be happy. Don’t you think?”

The man looked at her for another moment before setting the creature down. His arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her close. He was pure heat, his embrace filled with the scent of warm spices. She could feel the soft material of his white cloak and dark shirt against her face as he rubbed her back.

“You remind me too much of my Nefertari,” he cooed, holding her tight. “So gentle, so strong but so fragile.”

“I’m okay,” she breathed, unable to say much with him everywhere. Too much fabric. Not even Gilgamesh had ever worn so much material. Never around her at any rate. Why did it feel like she had been swept up in some kind of oven?

“I do not recognize you though. Who are you?”

She forced him to pull back slightly, trying to breathe real air without him in her senses. “I am… Hakuno. Hakuno Kishinami. I am the master for Gilgamesh Caster.” And eventually Archer, if luck was on her side.

“Ah, the new master in this place.” The man nodded. “I will grace you with my introduction as well. I am Ozymandias, the king of kings, pharaoh of all, incarnate of the sun god.”

He felt like a damn sun with the way he smiled, holding himself as proudly, if not prouder, than Gilgamesh. Being the center of his attentions was embarrassing.

“I should be getting back to Gilgamesh. I didn’t mean to stray too far from him.”

He simply smiled at her, not allowing the escape from his attentions for a single moment. “It would seem I am in your debt. You saved my sphynx.”

“I will consider the debt even if you help me get back,” she offered.

“I will consider how to repay you myself. I do not require assistance.” The man wrapped one arm around her and scooped up the sphynx in his other arm. “In the meantime, you may praise me for returning you to where you are required.”

So… he was going to help her get to the dining hall.

She grabbed her jacket off the table and folded it over one arm. If she left it here, bloodied and bunched up, the king would never let her hear the end of it. She would probably have to hear about how she was disrespectful or how she would owe him for her misdeeds.

As much as losing the jacket wouldn’t hurt her feelings, it was probably best with her.

“Come, come,” the man- Ozymandias encouraged.

They moved quietly from the room, the man’s hold of her loose unlike how eagerly Gilgamesh Caster and Archer seemed to hold her. Hakuno’s eyes drifted up to him as they walked from the infirmary towards the dining hall. He seemed more familiar with women for some reason. Maybe it was her imagination. Maybe it was just because she had been crying. Still, he seemed like he was giving her more space than the other kings.

The king’s hand wiped gently at her cheek as they walked down one hallway, his arm moving back around her to envelope her beneath the folds of his cloak again. As they rounded the corner, a series of rather large, monstrous servants appeared, Ozymandias wrapped his cloak over her a bit more, greeting the beasts as they passed.

“Ivan. Sparticus. Bloodaxe.”

The three men greeted the king with a nod, either not seeing her amongst the folds of the king’s cloak or not bothering to care. She held onto him to remain as hidden away as she was.

As they rounded another corner, the king paused. His eyes drifted down to hers. “Did I hear your stomach?”

“Um… Gilgamesh and I had been planning to get something to eat,” she explained.

“Then we should have a feast to seal our friendship, my small kitten!” He pushed the door open, pulling her along before she could argue, walking her past the other servants.

The many servants glanced their way, some only seeing the king and returning to their food. Others, upon seeing something wrapped amongst the folds of his cloak, frowned, watching them as they passed. Some of them looked almost human, others were massively altered from normal beings. Horns, tails, metallic pieces on the sides of one person’s head.

A book fluttered off one of the tables, morphing into a human girl who sprinted off into the hallway.

She could see Caster in a corner, writing away with food untouched nearby. Something about seeing him must have made her react since the king escorting her paused, glancing over in the man’s direction.

“I see you’ve found him. Let us partake in the meal as well and sit with him.”

“Pharaoh!”

A purple haired woman hurried over from nearby, bowing. Her face was flushed as she took in the sight of the injured baby sphynx. “My king! I must apologize, I see you have one of the sphynxes. I thought they had been safely put away with the medjed before I had come to dinner. Had I known one would be loose and possibly injured-”

“Silence, Nitocris!” Ozymandias beamed, pushing Hakuno forward. “My future master successfully rescued our pet before it could be harmed further. Praise her properly. We shall have to ensure that our debt to her is repaid with plenty.”

Oh, no. She wasn’t doing this song and dance again. She had just the right amount of servants. “There’s no need for that, Ozy-“

The woman was already moving forward though, grasping both her hands and grinning. “A new master? You must be what the Sumerian king brought back with him!”

She was too close, too bright. Why were all these servants so touchy-

“It is only natural that someone of good taste would bring a proper master with him.” Ozymandias told her. His voice was carrying in the damn room, earning several more head turns as Hakuno pulled her hands carefully from Nitocris’ grasp. “So much like my dear wife, our Hakuno went beyond her comfort and plans to see to it that we would not mourn for our sphynx.”

“Your sphynx was hurt. I just wanted to see it home.”

“If you are the pharaoh’s master, then you shall be mine as well.” Nitocris nodded to herself, as though the very declaration was not going to earn Hakuno life in Gilgamesh’s bedroom, unable to leave. She could already imagine the king’s outrage. The doors would gain more locks and bolts. He would look up more spell casting for barricading the doors. Or worse, he’d simply abandon his master and see how far they could get together into space before he was summoned back. How long would they have until he was summoned back and Hakuno found herself lost on some random planet?

The declaration was only naturally to be accompanied by more touching though, as Hakuno found herself pulled into the woman’s arms and hugged to-

Her face burned as the woman looked over at Ozymandias. Her chest was plumper than any servant she had ever met, smothering her in until she could only act in a way that would be inappropriate.

“M-miss…” Hakuno felt her face heat up as the breasts moved against her face. How on earth did she have a chest this large?!
She forced herself to remain still, face burning anew as the woman laughed. A hand stroked her hair. “She reminds me of Nefertari, my king.”

“Doesn’t she?” The man purred.

All servants were assholes.

“I think I should leave to sit with Gilgamesh.” She pulled carefully, slowly, from Nitocris’ grasp, stepping back several paces and bowing lightly. “If you’ll both excuse me.”

“Nonsense, I informed you that I would remain with you and I am planning on doing just that, my new master.”

“That’s alright,” she moved away a little more.

The man frowned slightly, grasping her hand once more and pulling her along to where Gilgamesh was sitting. “I will humor your request to be near the Sumerian king, but my intentions remain. Sit. Wait here. You can partake in an audience with me as we enjoy an evening meal.”

Caster looked up, looking between her and Ozymandias. As he took in her outfit and the king’s attentions, the gates of Babylon opened. A blanket quickly draped over her shoulders before he pulled her close to his side.

“Were you wandering again?” He murmured into her ear.

“I was coming here with Archer when he ran into Saber.”

“Which one?”

“The blonde one with green eyes.”

Caster merely arched one brow. “Which one?”

“I don’t know.” This was going poorly. Instinct kicked in as Hakuno hugged the king at her side and glanced over his notes about Uruk’s market layout. “The blonde woman and Gilgamesh Archer started fighting and one of Ozymandias’ sphynxes were hit.”

“He’ll never let them live that down,” Caster warned, almost hissing at the thought.

“It was in so much pain that I couldn’t leave it. So I took it to the infirmary and patched it up. Ozymandias found me there and-“ she motioned at where the king and Nitocris were conversing, loading up far too many plates than necessary. “-You see how they are.”

“You attract servants as much as Gudako.”

Looking over the market a bit more, Hakuno simply shook her head. “You need a water source in your marketplace since you noted that complaints are it’s too hot. Maybe a fountain or something.” She leaned against him more, wrapping the blanket tighter around herself lest anyone else decide that she needed to be their master. “Anyway, I don’t need more servants. I am just here for Gilgamesh.”

“It’s endearing to hear you say such things, my master.” He seemed to just purr the words to her, pulling her against his side and ducking his face to hers. “Don’t fret deeply about Ozymandias and Nitocris. Of all companionship, those two get along well with your Archer. Of anyone here, they will be the least insulting to him.”

“I don’t need another servant.”

He chuckled, setting the jacket she was wringing in her hands aside with his texts. “What exactly were your plans in coming here?”

“I needed to leave the bedroom at some point. I still need to talk to Gudako and figure out what to do next. I don’t mean to stay here.”

“And where do you think you’ll go?” The man moved his attentions from the papers he had to his plate, offering her a few bites of the veggies on his plate.

Of course he would ask that. It was something that not even she was positive about. Gilgamesh had seemed to have a plan at one point. In the end, she had just settled for going with his idea. Somehow, saying that she wanted to learn what pleasure was in a room filled with servants felt… overly intimate.

Hakuno just shook her head.

“Sometimes you have to live in the moment,” she quoted.

“Oh?”

“Isn’t that what you think?”

“Planning helps,” Caster admitted, merely grinning as he let the two others return and settle in on her other side and across from them. Ozymandias set the plates down proudly.

“Caster king, partake in this with us.”

“I was thinking of going to rest soon. I also need to inform my people about a fountain in the marketplace for Uruk.”

Hakuno could feel her grip tighten on Caster’s arm, earning an amused look in her direction.

“You should rest,” the king of kings agreed, “but first you may inform me how your contracting with my future master worked. I’m curious.”

“My contracting with Hakuno?”

The pharaoh nodded.

The man looked down at her a moment and, in that moment, she could only scream mentally how much he shouldn’t say anything. The last thing they needed was for another servant to break their contract and run to her. She couldn’t save them all. And to watch servants fade into nothing because she wouldn’t contract with them… It would be too much. The guilt would be something horrible.

Caster’s hand wrapped around hers lightly, lacing their fingers before he brought her hand to his lips. “Ah, but king of kings, I cannot discuss such things like that. My master and I have a very intimate, very solemn relationship with one another.” That grade A charisma and devilishly attractive look of his flickered to the king as the man kissed her hand again. “Why, simply discussing how much she shyly confessed herself to me would be reproachful. As someone devoted to his wife, you can understand my reservations in attempting to find words for such a pure set of actions. My master’s heart knows no bounds.”

Death.

She was going to ensure the damn caster’s death when this was said and done. If anything, Ozymandias seemed more intrigued.

“I-It wasn’t like that,” Hakuno tried.

“She was that shy?” The brunet inquired.

“As shy as the first flower blooming in spring,” the caster confirmed, ignoring her elbow to his side.

“A Nefertari reincarnate, my king?” Nitocris smiled, continuing to eat as she spoke. “I didn’t think it was possible for someone to act in the same way as her. It’s been so long.”

“Hakuno.”

Her hands were once more stolen away by the king of kings, his eyes gleaming brightly.

“I have decided without a doubt that I will become one of your servants as a way to repay you for what you have done for me on this day. Praise me as you see fit!”

“I don’t even think I can take more than one servant. I’ve never known anyone to be capable of it-“

“This place,” Ozymandias motioned around, “I have heard from the mages in this place that mages with lesser magic seem capable if they can rayshift. Since you have done so to arrive here, it should also be possible for you to take more than one. We can test with myself at once.”

“Do not think to steal my Hakuno from me, king of kings.”

“If what Nitocris says is true, it is you that is the thief,” the man replied to Caster, gaze narrowing.

Appetite ruined, Hakuno moved to stand up. She slipped free of the king’s grasp and turned away. “I’m going to go lay down for a while. I think I’m tired.”

“You don’t know your way around,” Caster moved to stand up. “Let me take you back to your room.”

“I’ve got it, king.” Nitocris pushed him back down before she rushed to her side. Hakuno found the woman wrapping an arm around her waist, pulling her along. “You are staying with the Archer king, yes?”

“I can find my way there.”

“It would be my pleasure to bring a pharaoh back to her chambers. There are so few of us around here.” Nitocris moved them quickly away from the men. “Do you have everything that you need since you’ve arrived? I did not hear anyone greet you properly as you entered.”

“I’m fine.”

“I have some things I could bring you,” Nitocris offered. “It would be nice to spend some time with another worthy of time.”

She just needed to stop talking to the servants entirely. She would just remain in Gilgamesh’s room and wait for the damn other master to meet with her. She would come around eventually. She could hold Archer hostage until she came along.

She seemed to borrow him often. It wouldn’t take long for him to notice.

Nitocris chattered on, surprisingly not making any further comments about being her servant. After three hallways, Hakuno looked over at her and found the woman scowling a little.

“Is something wrong?”

“You don’t seem pleased with me.”

“Hmm?”

Nitocris shook her head, her expression softening slightly. “It’s nothing. You just don’t seem to want to associate with me. Perhaps I was too eager. I hoped, since you and the great pharaoh had gotten along so well… It’s no matter.”

Even her ears were drooping.

She wasn’t supposed to say anything. Just go straight into Gilgamesh’s room and lock the door. Archer would come back and they could plan things from there. She didn’t need to be friends with everyone. It was better if she didn’t get close. There wouldn’t be any hard goodbyes.

The woman patted down her jackal ears though, motioning her as they reached the end of another hallway. “Almost there.”

“Nitocris…”

It was too much. She was very cute and it wasn’t fair for her to be that upset. There was no possible way for her to send Nitocris away when she was so unhappy.

“Maybe you could help me in the training grounds tomorrow? Caster Gilgamesh and myself were thinking of training.”

“You want two casters?”

“Casters are invaluable support.”

The woman looked over at her. “…You don’t need to comfort me. I will be fine, little mage.”

“I don’t mean it as comfort,” much. “I just was wondering if you would like to join us. I don’t know my way there and I know Caster was hoping to train. If I brought another strong Caster with me, then we would stand a far greater chance of being successful and I could learn about magic from a great pharaoh.”

An immense smile blossomed into place, blinding in its appearance as Hakuno felt herself enveloped into a rather large and overwhelming embrace. Nitocris practically bounced on her feet.

“I will join you both!” She declared, kissing both her cheeks. Hakuno could feel her face burning. “All three of your servants will be with you! I will inform Ozymandias at once of this plan and collect you in the morning.”

“Ah- Nitocris!”

The woman stopped her from continuing, pushing Archer’s door open and hurrying away. “Don’t forget to rest, my master! You will need it in the morning. You can behold and pay tribute to the strength of the gods!”

“Oh no…”

She shut the door, locking it and checking the door twice before she moved to the bed. Her body fell onto the sheets, eyes closing as she tried to stop the pounding in her head. This was turning into a disaster. Time and time again, she seemed to find herself around another servant insisting on becoming her servant. Caster. Ozymandias. Nitocris.

She wouldn’t be surprised if Archer lost his mind at the news.

“Damn it.”

The door slammed open before another slam announced its close. The sound of the archer himself storming through the room could be heard. Armor clinked off his body, landing across the floor. His muttering in his native tongue lasted for only a moment before he was climbing onto the bed.

“Master.”

“Not now, Archer, please.”

Her head had created its own tempo at this point, the pain becoming almost too much.

The last thing she needed to be doing was putting up with Archer in a foul mood. Whoever had taken the time to foul up his mood could take one for the team and swallow their pride, apologizing immensely for their transgression.

“Master, look at me.”

She opened one eye, hating the lights in the room in that moment. They were too bright. Everything about this situation was a pain. She should have been more like Gilgamesh, speaking up and remaining selfish through and through.

The man himself pursed his lips, searching her face a moment before he moved to remove his shirt.

“What are you doing, Gil?”

“I am taking what is mine, woman. Is it not obvious to even your innocent nature?”

“I’m not in the mood for this, Gil. Can we just rest? I didn’t even manage to eat much when I was in the dining hall.”

“Hmm?” He paused, halting in his pants removal to look up at her. “You went alone?”

“I ran into Ozymandias.”

“Ah,” the king nodded, leaning back a little. “The so called pharaoh. He is acceptable company, I suppose. A far cry from your usual company, but allowable.”

She simply yanked the king down to her side, burrowing against his chest rather than answering him. The king was familiar, a constant in a place that was overflowing in unknown situations and circumstances. With the strange book morphing, bolt-sporting, flower blossoming servants running around this place; Gilgamesh was a downright blessing.

“…Did something happen?”

She didn’t dare say a word at the moment. Right now, she needed this embrace and nothing else. One of his hands was working its way through her hair, the other slipping to the small of her back. He kept her so close, so very close. If only for a moment, she could think that she truly meant something to him, rather than being one of his toys.

“Hakuno…”

“My head is hurting, Gil.”

“Such a fragile master, I have.” He complained softly, his hand in her hair pressing a little more against her scalp. His ministrations, as useless as they seemed at first, were easing the pain away. Her body curled into his further.

She wanted things like this, simple and without anything more than necessary. She didn’t need a collection, just one good servant.

A knock at the door made Gilgamesh groan.

“Leave it,” Hakuno murmured.

“I had every intention of doing so. Do not tell me what I already have planned to do.”

The knock went off again before the locks swung out of place. Caster’s head moved into the room, glancing over at them before he stepped in and shut the door.

“Hakuno left her jacket.”

“Set it down and begone then,” Archer replied. “I’m adding to my locks tomorrow.”

Great.

“…It is important for me to have time with my master as well, Archer.”

She felt Archer’s hands tighten around her, pulling her close. “Is it? If I recall, it was through deception that you became my master’s servant. You played on her good nature.”

“If I recall, you locked her away in a room and expected her not to grow tired and long for freedom. I want for her what you do, Archer.”

“I am grateful to the Rider king for watching my Hakuno while she was away.”

“Oh are you?” Caster’s voice was almost mocking in the way he said it. “Here I thought you would be upset over both him and his fellow pharaoh, Nitocris, deciding that our Hakuno is the reincarnation of the pharaoh’s wife, Nefertari. How noble of you to allow them both to be Hakuno’s servants as well.”

“You must be mistaken.” The king’s voice was almost a whisper at that. Hakuno glanced over at Caster, almost pleading for the man to stop. Archer would not take the news well.

Caster didn’t even hesitate. “Oh no, they’ve begun planning how to lure her out of your room. There’s plans to join Hakuno and I in the training grounds come morning as well.”

“Hakuno will be spending the day with me. Gudako has another singularity that she will be working through alongside Da Vinci and her second in command. Da Vinci wants no training or rayshifting done during that time.”

“Were you with your master to learn that?”

“You were with my master. However, my contractor was the one who informed me of this. She is taking Saber with her.”

“How fortunate for you.”

“Begone, Caster.”

“On the contrary, I have come to spend time with my master and I fully intend to do that now.” His voice was coming closer, Archer’s grip turning painful in its hold of her. The bed jostled, a pair of arms moving behind her back before she felt a pair of lips press against the back of her neck.

“Hakuno, my master,” Caster murmured.

“Do not touch my Hakuno, Caster.”

Caster’s soft whisper was right at her ear. “Since we cannot train tomorrow, we can continue our lessons, I have thought of some methods of teaching that I feel will keep you most attentive.”

“Hakuno and I will be busy in here. Alone.”

“Listen to him anger over my interest in you,” Caster teased, a hand moving over her side, heading up to her chest. “Should I see how far I can push him?”

“She is trying to sleep, mongrel! Begone!”

Caster went to speak again when Hakuno simply glanced his way, tiredly scowling.

“Caster, don’t test him. Archer’s as tired as I am. I don’t care about the fact that you decided to leave a master that was ignoring you. I don’t blame you, but Archer has always been my partner and he’s always been the one to help me out of trouble.”

“I have,” Archer agreed, his smirk firmly in place.

“Archer,” Hakuno looked over her shoulder to the smug king, her temper waning. Shamefully, she didn’t have the outrage talents that the golden king had. “…Caster can be in here if he wants to be.”

“It is my room, Hakuno,” Archer growled.

This time, Caster smiled, pulling her back in as Archer hissed and complained, voice quieter.

“Do you know,” Caster began.

“Don’t.” She didn’t want to hear it. “I just want to rest and help you improve Uruk. I miss just having someone as a partner who is interested in growing stronger and making things better.”

Caster’s eyes seemed to gleam at that. His embrace grew gentler, thus allowing the archer behind her to wrap his arms tightly around her as well and begin to quietly complain to the caster on her other side.

“She is mine,” he murmured.

Caster’s face grew closer to her, lips pressing to the tip of her nose. “Sleep, my pure-intention driven master. I think you’ll find I fulfill your desires come tomorrow.”

Hakuno pulled Archer’s hand into her own, ignoring the two men’s quiet bickering as she pressed her cheek to the roughened skin.

No more servants.

The one she was holding would suit just fine.

Chapter Text

Shuffling the cards in her hands, Gudako looked across the table towards the small king waiting for their next game to begin. “So… You made it into Gilgamesh Archer’s room, right?”

The boy nodded, “but she wasn’t there.”

“Do you think she was in Caster’s room?”

Shortly after their discussion, the mage king had successfully ended his contract with her, going immediately to Hakuno. As worrisome as that was, Caster had been difficult. The man had constantly complained of being bored and needing to work. Asking him to translate had been her attempt to make him feel like he was being valued, like he was important.

Instead he had merely complained of being overworked and begun to fall asleep in random places in Chaldea. Servants had tripped over him or had to fish him out of the public bathing area. Sometimes she had heard from some of the servants that the king had fallen face first into his food.

Hence trying to sleep gas him.

Hence him getting more upset with her.

From the time she had seen him earlier today, he had seemed much more alert, happy. The bags that were under his eyes had lessened. His clothes had actually looked like they had been washed and pressed. What’s more, he had been laughing. Not as obnoxiously as Gilgamesh Archer, but he had been laughing at something Cu Caster had said.

Truly, the woman had done her a favor in the end.

What an astounding Gilgamesh whisperer, she had decided.

“She wasn’t in Caster’s room either,” Kid Gil confirmed.

Where was she being kept then?

She had kept Gilgamesh gone from the moment she had found him and Saber fighting. With the opportunity, she had wanted Kid Gil to drag Hakuno away from the king so she could get to know the woman without Archer butting in. Taking Saber and Archer with her, Gudako had left plenty of time to locate the woman, dragging Saber and Archer through trial after trial. She had forced the two to bond with her, even going so far as to threaten to prolong Archer’s contract when he began to insult Saber. The two of them had escorted her until they were both too tired at the end to make insults at one another. Gilgamesh’s usual enthusiasm for working with Saber had vanished, replaced with irritation.

“You have another card in your sleeve,” Gil accused, earning a small smile from the woman.

“I don’t have anything… like…”

The boy reached across the table and pulled the card, setting his hand down and standing up. “Once again you lie to me, Master. How can I play games with you when you do nothing but deceive?“

Before she could counter, the sound of the door opening behind her could be heard. Nitocris’ voice reached them, as calm as ever. “Are we interrupting?”

At the woman’s side, Ozymandias stood proudly with his cloak carefully and tastefully around his shoulders. His brown hair was spiked up like Archer’s became from time to time.

“Ozy! Nito!” Gudako grinned, standing up and motioning them in. “Come! Sit down with us. We’re just playing cards. I don’t think Gil wants to play with me right now though.”

“We are on our way to investigate how Caster managed to remove his contract,” Nitocris replied, shaking her head. “We just wanted to inform you of our plans to align ourselves with little Hakuno.”

“Huh?”

What did they mean, they wanted to leave her for Hakuno? After all they had gone through since Camelot, the two just-
“Allow me to explain,” Ozymandias offered. “Upon finding the woman today, I have come to realize that she is none other than the reincarnation of my Nefertari. I’m sure you recall my description of my wife.”

Gudako just blinked at him.

“One cannot help when their wife’s soul arrives,” Ozymandias continued, closing his eyes as he smiled. “She illuminates a room with her deeds. Her timid nature shines through with every moment in her company. The opportunity to protect and assist what is mine is too great a temptation. I have no choice.” He shrugged. Those golden eyes peering over at her once more with that deep smolder. “That is to say that we would be open for assisting you at times, dear Gudako, but even our sphynxes have seen through her newfound exterior to the soul lying within. If they seek to be with her, so too must I.”

She had to sit again, staring at the two as they turned tail.

“Speak with all those whom speak with Gilgamesh Caster,” Ozymandias told Nitocris. “If he had assistance, then they will know something. If not, then we will find a way to make Caster inform us himself of his manner of escaping his contract.”

“Understood, my pharaoh!”

“You lost another two servants,” the younger archer murmured once the door closed.

“It seems so.” Gudako could only stare at the door, waiting in vain a moment for the two to return and declare a joke. Yet each minute passed with nothing. No jokes. No tricks. They had decided to leave her.

“What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know…”

A knock came, shaking her out of her reverie as Mash poked her head in.

“What are you both doing awake? We have to go to the new singularity tomorrow!” Mash motioned at them. “Please go to sleep.”

“Mash, do you-“

“Sleep, Senpai.” Mash moved her head out of the room, her voice reaching the two as she spoke up to someone in the hall. “You can’t find Merlin? I hope he’s not harassing the knights again.” A moment of silence ensued as Gudako looked over at Gil. A low murmur could be heard before Mash spoke up again. “…Fine. I can help look. Please be sure to let Lancelot know that this doesn’t mean anything. Our relationship is best as it is now. We don’t need to bond.”

There wasn’t time to talk to the woman. Gudako could already tell that she would have to wait until the singularity was handled. If she wandered out now, she’d end up alone with the Caster mage of flowers. The man had been intent on them having alone time. That alone sounded like some kind of red flag. “I’m going to bed. Can you clean up the table?”

“Demanding a king clean.” The boy huffed. “I bet Hakuno wouldn’t make me clean.”

She needed to talk to Mash about this while they were away. Maybe if one or two of the servants kept an eye on things. Just to ensure that there wasn’t something going on with this woman being in Chaldea.

Gilgamesh Archer trusted her, but she could have any number of personalities. She could be intent on being the most powerful, creating trouble in Chaldea.

They didn’t need power plays.

“Master?”

“Gil, could you please have Cu Alter and Bathory visit me when you go? I want to have a conversation with them about something.”

Just to be safe…

Chapter Text

Somehow she had managed to sleep.

However she managed that, Hakuno wasn’t sure, but there it was. She was once more awakening in the room that breathed of the great Sumerian king, the blond himself sleeping away at her side. Another blond was sleeping on her other side, having finally settled in.

The moment the two had realized that she wasn’t listening to them and was going to sleep, she had heard the two end their fight.

“How did you end your contract with Gudako?” Archer had asked the man again.

“We don’t know if Hakuno can handle having another servant,” Caster murmured back. “I need time to analyze how Hakuno’s mana works.”

“She’ll be fine. I have a backup plan.”

"Backup plan?"

"The herb."

She had almost wanted to open her eyes and ask what the man meant, but Caster's grip tightened on her.

“We can’t do that,” Caster hissed.

“Find me a way then.”

Archer had mentioned that his master was busy with a singularity. Perhaps the best move to make was to talk to some of the other servants and ask about their master. She could make her intentions clear in merely spending time with Archer and leaving. They could come to understand that she had no aspirations for stealing away servants or causing their master distress.

Then again, that had not worked well for the last couple servants she had met.

Whatever was done from here on out needed to be in direct view of the master. Gudako would probably already have the wrong idea with her and Caster having a contract. If she learned of Ozymandias and Nitocris, she may become upset.

Hakuno leaned back, watching the two men curl up closer to her before her eyes caught sight of something. Or rather, several somethings. Lotus blossoms seemed to have encompassed the floors.

Come to think of it, there were fewer vats of wine in the room.

A selection of fabrics and items glinted from the table nearby as she looked around, shifting a little from where she was sitting.

“Master,” Caster’s voice cracked slightly as he slowly woke up. His eyes lazily drifted up to hers.

Archer’s grip on her waist tightened.

“You can go back to sleep, Caster.” Hakuno leaned over him, brushing back his bangs. “I just noticed you brought a lot to the room.”

“…Master, I have not brought anything yet,” Caster replied sleepily, tugging at the hold Archer had on her waist. “I bring only myself, knowing that I can soon enough claim you entirely and give you all that is mine in my own domain. I have no need to claim another’s space.”

“You didn’t leave all these flowers on the floor then?”

Both men leaped up at that, looking around before their eyes went to one another.

“Lock the door,” Caster told the other. “Check Hakuno while you’re at it!”

“How did he get in with you here? Couldn’t you sense him as a Caster?” Archer’s hands were already drifting along her body, the tension in his body easing as Hakuno felt him-

“ARCHER!”

“He hasn’t touched her,” Archer replied, ignoring her complaints. “How did he get in?!”

“Casters are not infallible. You know how that white-haired bastard is,” Caster looked over at her a moment before a clapping came from behind them.

Legs crossed, brush in hand, Nitocris clicked her tongue. She had been half hidden away by one of the hanging tapestries. As she waved her staff, two blankets fell upon both men.

“Really, subjecting my master and pharaoh to such things. You should both be ashamed of yourselves for doing such things. Your insolence knows no bounds.”

Archer was the first to sigh in relief.

“What are you doing here, Nitocris?” Caster was the first to pull the blanket off, wrapping it around his waist as Archer tossed the blanket out the bedroom door, opting to remain nude.

“I came to visit my master and ensure she gets to spend time with her pharaohs,” she moved in such fluid movements, climbing onto the bed and to her side.

It was almost too early for this kind of thing. Hakuno found herself held close, only able to just sigh as the woman began to brush out her hair. What the hell was going on? Who had the two kings been expecting to find in the room?

Caster crossed his arms, “Your kindness for my master knows no bounds, Nitocris, but the fact remains that out of everyone here, Hakuno is only my master. I can overlook the invasion of the space, but out of concern for my master’s protection, I would ask that you reserve your methods to her protection rather than appealing to her senses.”

“I asked around about how you achieved that,” Nitocris told him. “No one is sure how you achieved breaking your contract, but I think I might have an idea. I am thinking of testing my theory later.”

Caster’s gaze narrowed a moment before he turned. “I will be back in a while. Archer, please watch my master-“

“Enough of your commands. Hakuno is mine and I will watch over what is mine… without sharing.” The two shared a look before Caster was gone.

This was going to be a nightmare.

Running her hands over Nitocris’, Hakuno stopped her work and turned. “Thank you for the flowers.”

“Of course!”

“But could you make sure that they could fit in a vase? I don’t want to crush them all when I am coming and going. You also had to wait while I slept. Don’t you think that’s unfair? Have you gone to eat or seen how the little sphynx is doing? I know it was crying when I stitched it back together last night.”

The woman blinked, her mouth opening only to form a circle. “I didn’t even think about that. I’ll pick them up and check on the sphynx.” The flowers wilted into nothingness, making Hakuno sigh in relief.

“Thank you.”

She motioned at the clothing nearby. “I brought you things too. Atalanta said that you didn’t have much to wear and you were wearing the clothes you had on yesterday. Ozymandias had me bring some things from his reserves as well. We wanted to make sure you had enough.”

“I appreciate it, but I think Gilgamesh has enough for me.”

Her words were waved off, “men are knowledgeable, but they don’t always know best about these things. As the incarnation of Horus, I am wise in many of these things!”

“Listen to my master, pharaoh,” Archer glared at her, stopping his argument with Caster and allowing the man to leave.

“This from a man who cannot clothe himself properly around a lady.” Nitocris’ hold was back around her and Hakuno could only rub at what was promising to turn into a headache. A rather nasty one at that.

“You think you can come in here and take what is mine,” Gilgamesh was already moving now, storming to in front of them and looming overhead. Everything about him seemed to take up more space, as though he had to ensure that the woman knew where his ruling ended. Or rather, that he owned all.

He was going to be losing his mind if she didn’t think of something. He always got caught up in fights. He had done so mostly with Leo and some of the others back when they were on the far side of the moon.

“Hakuno is our Nefertari,” Nitocris told the man simply. “You are the one stealing what is the pharaoh’s.”

“Nitocris,” Hakuno shook her head. “Can you please check on the sphynx?”

“In a minute,” she told her, keeping up with the glare she was receiving from Gilgamesh.

“You think you can just claim my Hakuno? Your woman died.”

“Reincarnation is a beautiful thing,” Nitocris replied easily.

“You may not have my Hakuno.”

“Nitocris,” Hakuno tried again.

It was no use though. She was intent on fighting.

If she wanted to stop them, she needed to stop them with Gilgamesh.

She pulled him in, an idea coming to mind. He couldn’t argue if he was distracted. Those red eyes were already losing their heat as she reached for him. Somewhere nearby, Hakuno could hear Nitocris squeak. As the woman moved aside, Hakuno gripped the back of the king’s head, smashing their lips together.

Immediately, he changed. The king’s arms moving around her waist now. His fall turned into him climbing over her person, laying her back across the bed as his lips moved with hers. The sound of outrage could be heard nearby, but the man above her didn’t care. His eyes were glinting, lips pulling back only to return as she gasped for breath.

“Gil.”

The name escaped her as he moved his mouth down to her chest, unbuttoning the blouse she had on with ease. Her body was heating up.

“…I-I will check on the sphynx and return with Ozymandias,” Nitocris’ voice told them. The sound of footsteps and the door could be heard soon enough. Hakuno turned her head slightly, noting that the room was empty. The king’s hands roamed over her chest, making her body melt beneath him.

“Gil,” she breathed, finding herself embarrassed by the fact that her own voice was sounding so weak. “Gil, she’s left.”

“That is of no matter,” he purred.

Geez, this.

Hakuno groaned, “It was all I could think of for getting her to stop harassing you.”

“Oh?” Gilgamesh remained too close, his hands moving down her body. “You think it was just for saving me from her insolence?” He leaned closer, “Should install a mirror in here, so that you may partake in the look that came to your face a moment ago? You were so worried about my wrath taking away from our time. Your face was filled with that useless concern.”

She wrapped an arm around his neck, latching to him since he was so damn insistent. Two could play at this game.

“Master,” Gilgamesh murmured.

It had been the best thing that had come to mind, she thought in vain, feeling those lips against her neck, working down the blouse from her shoulders and unbuttoning the front. Her skirt was slipping down, binding her legs together.

Her grip on his hair tightened as she found herself pinned beneath him. As he worked his way down her chest, Hakuno found herself leaning back, exposing herself without a second thought. It was those damn lips of his. Like his charisma went further than mere words, but into the very actions those lips could take.

Her body was useless at the onslaught, thoughts disassembling as she found the blouse gone. Further and further down he went, until the creeping chill of the room was stroking at her upper body. Goosebumps were forming on her arms. The need to be swallowed up by his attention was rising.

“Gilgamesh.”

It came out so much weaker now, earning an appraising look from the king. He lifted her hips, mouth pressing again and again to her hip, her thigh- Her skirt fell to the wayside, out of view before he held her legs in each hand and stared down at what was between them.

“Perhaps if I simply claim this, the others will go away.”

That wasn’t how that worked. She opened her mouth to tell him that, but the man moved closer, that damned smirk in place a moment before she felt him touching her.

Everything broke from there.

Her body was shaking, her eyes rolling back as the man touched at a sensitive spot. It was as though he had found the control to everything and he was slowly testing his newfound abilities. She couldn’t move a thing to stop him and a good part of her didn’t want to. Her body was burning and she wanted to let it be engulfed in flames.

No, she wanted to make him feel this way as well.

The thought took over as soon as it was formed.

Yes, he needed to be this lost as well.

She opened her mouth to say something, but the only thing that came out was something far different. The moan seemed to echo, bringing those eyes back up to hers. His lips pulled back, glistening in the light of the room. His tongue ran over his lips, face coming forward until it was right before hers.

His fingers were moving over her inner thighs, casting all thought away as his forehead met hers.

“Does this please you, Hakuno?”

Those damn eyes. She was always watching his damned eyes. He always had such obvious emotions escaping from them. Even when he was insulting, those eyes told her what she needed to know. They gleamed in absolute bliss at seeing her like this. He was enjoying every second of her lost like this.

“Are you so caught up in pleasure that you cannot speak? It is acceptable, my master. You may scream and moan to your heart’s content so long as others can hear it.”

Others…

Was the door locked?

She couldn’t remember if they had locked it. Somehow, the idea of someone coming in on them when they were like this… if his master-

“You’re wetter, my master? Do you know that?” He moved to sit upright, a hand slipping deeper between her thighs. Her body arched torwards him as he touched something sensitive. The other hand went behind her back as he kept her upright.

“Gil-“

“Look at this,” he teased, holding up his fingers to her view. “Do you know why a woman becomes wet like this? This, this is just the start of your body welcoming me in. Where you do not know what pleasure is, your body does not lack these faults. It knows who its master is.”

Damn.

He looked downwards, smirking more at her chest. “I think it’s about time I show you what other ways your body calls for mine. It has so many ways, my Hakuno. Even if your lips cannot form the words that I want to hear.”

She was shaking harder. Or maybe the room was shaking. She wouldn’t know one way or another.

He just laughed, laying her back down and climbing over her. Hands were moving to her chest, beginning a kneading motion. Her body was dying in a new way with this, his torture making her chest begin to ache. She needed more. Would die without it.

A knock came from nearby.

The squeak escaped her as she tried to move, trapped into place by the man above her. Archer looked back, his ministrations becoming harsher as he took in Caster’s presence.

“I must insist that you stop your ministrations on my master, Archer.”

“We are in the middle of something. Return later. I may take pity on you and allow you to speak through the door to her.”

“Your master should be looking for you soon enough. She took the liberty of informing me that she would be using a command seal again if necessary. The singularity looks to require an archer.”

Archer stopped, his hold on her almost painful now. Hakuno moved to sit up, pushing his hold away as she wrapped a pillow in front of her chest.

“Hakuno,” Caster held his arms open. “Come here. Let us find you attire.”

“This is yet another time you interrupt my time with my master, Caster.” Archer blocked her path with an arm. “Yet you know nothing of my master. She is not simply going to abandon me for a copy. A faulty one at that. Let me show you.”

Her head was pulled closer, those lips moving against hers again. It was too damn soon. The other was right there, but she just- it was Archer. She mewled against his lips, finding his mouth dominating over everything.

She breathed the name as he pulled back, that gaze flickering to him.

“I possess my master because our bond is beyond what masters and servants could ever hope for. My master is my everything, for lack of better words. Mongrel though she is, she is unique in her own way and shall be my mongrel. Any other claims come second to mine.”

“We are one in the same in the end,” Caster argued. “Your claim is my claim.”

“Listen to him dream, my Hakuno,” Archer taunted. She went into his arms, no more in charge of herself than the servant holding her. His lips pressed to the back of her neck. “It must be the fault of casters.”

“I happen to like Caster,” Hakuno replied after a moment, shutting her eyes to be able to say it. She could feel the embarrassment of admitting such things, the cold air in the room hardly being deflected by the pillow against her chest.

“Like,” the man behind her scoffed. “Insolent indeed.”

Caster was locking the door before he moved forward. His hands were on her face, tilting her head back before those lips were claiming hers.

There was a difference. There was an immense difference between Caster and Archer.

Archer engulfed her. He left nothing to chance and took everything. Being kissed by him was being swept into a storm to which there were no exits. You went with it because your mind, body, and soul screamed for it. When he laid you down, you went because it was the only thing to do before the king. You were simply there because you were lucky enough to be there.

It wasn’t like that for Caster.

Those lips moved against hers, persuading with kindness. His hands held her so carefully, as though at any moment, with just the barest of touches or words, you could disappear. Each movement was so careful. Each moment was so…

She felt teeth at her neck, punishing even as the man kissing her pleaded so desperately for her attentions.

“This is too much!” Hakuno shoved herself out from between the two, panting as she looked back at them.

“She was fine before,” Archer complained. “Leave, Caster.”

“You made her neck bruise,” Caster argued. “You’re too rough.”

“You’re both too much.” Hakuno wrapped the blankets around her body. Or rather, she used what wasn’t under the two idiots. “I can’t think straight when you’re both touching me.”

“Thinking is unnecessary.”

They said it in unison, as though the mere thought was absurd.

“Okay, but you’re both trying to touch me and I don’t know what to do with either of you…” She looked over at Caster, “Go get me some clothes please.”

“Let us see what Nitocris brought you,” He replied.

“Hakuno-“

“Find out what your master needs, Gil. I will be fine.”

The man balled up his fists, moving to stand.

She was going to be in for it later. However unprepared she had been to give herself before, she would need to be ready this evening. Her body was his for the taking and nothing less than that would be able to ease the king’s ire. Either that or she would need to reject Caster.

But even that would upset him, as his outburst the other evening had suggested. Rejecting Caster was rejecting him on some level.

“I will return,” he threatened. “I’m increasing the locks before I leave too. Only you will be able to get in. I’ll talk to Berserker about it before I leave.”

“I will be waiting,” she told him simply, reaching forward to touch him.

The man paused a moment, the tension in his body easing before he moved in close, tilting her head and pressing his lips to hers.

It was as close to kindness as the king were capable of. She drank it in greedily before he pulled back and headed out the door.

Chapter Text

With Archer gone, Hakuno found herself left to Caster's whims. Although she wasn't going to complain about it. The sweater that Gilgamesh Caster had pulled from Babylon was thick, covering from neck to her knees. Along with that, he had gone so far as to formulate boots and stockings to cover up more of her. She had almost wanted to argue that it might be a little too warm, but it was at least simple. Simple, nondescript.

She appreciated that.

Still, the man had seemed off. Probably still bothered by Archer's taunts.

"You don't want to pick something different?" She had found herself asking him.

“You attract enough attention,” he told her, scowling further.

She just sighed, taking his hand as they moved out of the bedroom and headed slowly through the hallways. This time, the path held a little more familiarity. The scenery outside was more natural looking now, with its far off mountains and snowy terrain. The deep blue skies were still clear, leaving the sunlight to glint against the snow. Naturally, it was still confusing in that the hallways all looked too much alike, but as they grew closer to the dining area, she could see familiar pictures on the walls and hear familiar voices.

“Did you manage to contact Uruk?” Hakuno asked her escort.

“Hmm? About the fountain idea of yours?”

“Yes.”

Caster grinned a bit more. “I did. My advisors were quick to agree to the idea, even going so far as to praise me like some child. A fountain is far simpler than providing water barrels and more shade to the merchants. I would expect nothing less than brilliant from my master.”

His compliment was great. Hakuno found herself smiling up at him as she held his hand a little tighter. “If there’s anything else you want to look at for Uruk, I would be happy to help.”

“Do you have great interest in my kingdom then?”

“It’s yours.” Hakuno shrugged lightly. “If it’s important to you, then I should learn more about it and do what I can to help it too.”

Caster stopped them a moment, once more leaning over her to kiss her gently. He kissed her like she would break into pieces. It had taken far too long to see that. His light embrace was almost cruelly gentle, coaxing even as it held back.

Hakuno kissed him harder, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. She could feel his earrings against her arm as she made him deepen the kiss for a minute.

“Hakuno,” he purred. Those red eyes lingered on her mouth as he pulled back. “I need to see to your needs. We can continue this later.”

“Lead the way, Gil,” she told him.

His lighter mood seemed to fade a little at the nickname. He was probably remembering her calling Archer that.

Damn, but he simply pulled away, leading her into the dining hall.

They moved into the dining room quietly, walking through the line amongst the others without much conversation between them. Even as they avoided the conversation, she could see he was thinking about their conversation just now. His eyes drifted to her before she’d look away. His lips forming a slight smirk at catching her watching him.

It was better to not talk though, Hakuno thought. Better to not get any attention. They would eat and return to the bedroom. They could spend the afternoon studying and rest. That would make things simple.

Somehow, during the course of the afternoon, she was going to help cheer him up. While she didn't blame him for being upset about Archer's taunts, she still didn't want him to feel upset. He was still her servant and he deserved to be treated right. Especially when Archer had said that his master hadn't paid attention to him.

She could do better. She would do better.

Somehow.

“Oi,” a blue jacketed man- Cu Caster- moved behind them in line, grinning as he built his own plate. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to be escorted by Atalanta or Ereshkigal today. “Did you hear about Gudako? She’s wandering off to a singularity with a handful of the servants. Casters get to reign in the Chaldea for a while again.”

“Hmm?” Hakuno blinked. Hadn’t Gilgamesh Archer been summoned to her side?

“It doesn’t interest me,” her Caster replied easily, adding a bit more vegetables to her plate and pulling her along.

“Hmm? It doesn’t?” Cu frowned.

“Not in the slightest, Cu. If you’ll excuse us-“

“Whoa now,” Cu followed after them, settling into the space across from them as they settled into a corner of the place. “I don’t get you. You were all about getting the place to ourselves and building respect for Casters just a few days ago. You were the one corralling us all for doing more here.”

“Circumstances have changed,” he replied.

“Ah.” Cu looked over at her, as though understanding was hitting him. “I heard ya got Nitocris and Ozymandias, kid. I wasn’t expecting you to be so interested in another caster after getting old coot Gilly.”

“I resent that name,” Gil told him.

“I know. Hence my using it.” He replied in such a sing-song voice, grinning widely at the man as though he weren't in a horrible mood. Truly, he was asking for trouble.

“Just call him Gilgamesh or Caster,” Hakuno told him. “He’s not in the best mood today.”

The blue haired man just laughed, motioning at the man. “Him? Not in a great mood? Oh boy, how do I put this for you." The man ran a hand through his hair, humming a moment before snapping his fingers. "So yeah, he’s been in a bad mood since he got here, little one. Had the Chaldea group go and invade his home in Uruk, then everything went to shit, then he ends up being summoned here. And mind you, he had to come here after the other two Gilgamesh idiots got here. This one had to catch sight of his kid and younger self being the complete shits that they are-“

“Careful, Hakuno is quite fond of Archer.”

The way that the king said that made it clear that he didn’t approve. She'd been right in her thinking before. He was still hurt over this morning. As though it was her fault that she had a bond with Archer already in place. She really hadn’t intended to build a contract with him. What was a nice way to point that out without him getting hurt further?

Rejecting Caster is rejecting a part of me, Archer had said before.

Another sigh escaped her as she resumed eating. Thinking was better on a full stomach. Better to eat now before something happened and she had to wait to eat.

“Yeah, well he’s a shit," Cu argued. "Everyone knows this. Same with the little one, running around here with those other little shits, causing trouble. I swear, Abigail caught me in the hall the other day-“

He cut himself off this time, noting a small girl bouncing into the room in a black dress. Her blond hair bounced behind her as Cu moved closer to them.

“Anyway,” he went on, lowering his voice, “I’m just sayin’ he’s an asshole and you both know it. Anyway, Caster here’s always in a bad mood, kid. Asking me to try to stop that from happening is like askin' to stop breathin'. You can try, but it ain't gonna work out. Geezer Gil always has a bad mood.”

“And you’re always stalking your other selves for a lance,” Gil replied simply, sipping at his drink.

“Damn straight. I deserve to have a lance.”

“You don’t have one?” Hakuno asked.

“No, I don’t. I have a staff.” Cu brought it to fruition, setting it on the table. The runes glittered across it softly in the light. “Not as impressive. It’s stupidly unfair for my berserker self to even have one and I get the shaft.”

“I like your staff.” Hakuno brushed a hand along one of the runes, tracing it before she looked over at him. “Maybe you should rethink about being the only one without a lance.”

“Okay, but- I’m the only one without one.” Cu crossed his arms. “It’s without sayin’ that I think this is shit.”

“If you don’t like it, then give it to Gil Caster and I.” Two could argue this way. “We don’t have any staff.”

The two men both stared at her, Gil’s food about halfway to his lips as she spoke up. The conversation just stopped, a few people nearby looked their direction as she waited.

It was true. She didn't have a staff or anything. Gil didn't either from what she had seen. With the weapon the man had set on the table, there was no doubt that they'd be a bit stronger.

“Oh gods, I think she’s serious.” Gil murmured.

Cu erupted into laughter, falling back from his seat and continuing to lose his mind. His hair fell every which way as other servants stepped around him. More looks were cast their way as the caster went on laughing.

“I’m just saying,” Hakuno growled. “He’s whining over a weapon. He can go find another and we’ll hold onto his. There’s a lot of magic here.” Maybe having a staff would help her focus her magic circuits a bit better, keep the flow going consistently instead of the mess that it was.

“I have my tomes, woman.” Gilgamesh pulled her closer, rolling his eyes. “I have no need for Celtic runes and toys.”

“Oh gods, I love it.” Cu climbed slowly onto his seat, righting it as he dematerialized his staff. “I can see why the others immediately left Gudako’s side for ya. Geez, I am tempted to do the same. You ever want another Caster, you just look my way. Just fuckin’ look my way and I’ll easily abandon my post.”

“Watch it, Caster,” Gil hissed.

“Down boy, down.” Cu waved a hand. “I ain’t gonna leave Gudako so easily...probably. Anyway, I’ve been here a while, Gilly. It ain’t in me to just run off into the sunset at the sign of another master. I know Gudako was lookin’ a little ragged lately too. She might be stressin’ over the other servants bein’ all talkative about your little master.”

“Hakuno. My name is Hakuno,” she told him.

“Girly, if I don’t know your name, I can’t get attached.” The man winked, “and I am someone who gets real fond of masters, you get me. If they let me.”

“Gudako didn’t let you get close?”

“She don’t work like that. Mash keeps her on a tight leash,” Cu replied to her easily. “She tried getting close to a few. She drags Raikou or a few others into her room now and then, but she mostly sleeps alone. She also doesn’t try to bond too much with anyone. Better for battle if people respect her but don’t get overly attached. If they die, that’s it.”

It sounded like she treated them like fodder. No wonder Caster hadn’t mourned for the lost contract. No wonder he had wanted to leave her. It explained why Archer had been adamant on leaving her as well. Hakuno held onto Gil’s arm.

“Enough, Cu.” Gil looked over at him and shook his head. “I don’t need Hakuno getting into a foul mood as well.”

“I’m fine,” she told him quietly.

“Ah, don’t fret too much. We go back into the darkness of the grail until summoned again. Sometimes we’re summoned back here pretty quick too.”

Her hand tightened on Gil’s arm, her stomach churning at the news.

It was exactly as she had feared in the grail.

“Hakuno… Hakuno,” Gil’s voice reached through the memories swirling in her mind, pulling her back into the present. He tilted her head back lightly and brushed his lips against her own. “Do not ponder the fool’s words for more than a moment. We do not suffer. It feels like a few minutes of time before we are summoned again. It is nothing worth worrying about. And regardless, I am your servant, Hakuno. You and I will remain contracted to one another from here on out.”

“I know. I won’t let anything happen to you,” she promised.

He squeezed their laced hands lightly before smirking at Cu. “Do you know whether Da Vinci has the training grounds available? I was going to take Hakuno out into the grounds for a while.”

“She’s busy with the rayshift view of the singularity, but the room to get to the training grounds is completely available for use. You would just need someone to watch over the controls since Da Vinci is being adamant about not letting anyone near them.” He leaned back, “you’d probably someone wise and immensely talented. Handsome, but not too much.”

“Someone such as yourself,” Hakuno supplied.

“Hmm? Oh me?” He leaned back, draping an arm over the side of his seat and leaning his head back. He smiled lightly as he turned his gaze their way. “Such a nice little master you are, noting others and their features. Handsome. Me. I suppose I can do it. Since you’ve buttered me up so much.”

Her servant groaned at the self-complimenting servant. “I swear you feed off attention as badly as my Archer self.”

Cu waved him off, stuffing his bagel into his mouth. He motioned at the door and gestured for a few seconds before Caster just waved him off.

“You’ll be waiting there. Understood.”

The man hurried off, leaving Hakuno alone with the golden caster at her side.

With him gone, they could finish eating. As much as she had enjoyed talking to a servant that wasn't trying to impress her, there were more important things. Like eating... or getting Caster to eat.

Hakuno looked over at him to find the man was somehow reading at a time like this, his nose in a tome that she had not seen him carrying before.

"...Does your food not taste good?"

"Hmm? Oh." Caster motioned at the plate he had pushed away from himself a bit. "Eating is not required of servants. It's simply an indulgence. I do not require food."

"It's good to eat though."

The man shrugged.

She wasn't going to let him just not eat. Still, his plate was filled with nonsense. Of all the things to get in that line, he had gone for bland foods. She cut a little bit of her cinnamon roll and held it up towards the Caster.

"Here, at least have a bit to eat."

He raised a brow.

"Food provides energy and energy flows both ways for servants and masters, don't they?"

"Not particularly, unless servants and masters are performing a mana transfer," the caster replied easily.

"...So you don't want some of this?" She waved the food in front of him. "You don't want to try this delicious bite of well made pastry to help yourself have more energy for later?"

"Do you not like sweets?"

She loved sweets. It was no doubt written all over her face as he asked that. Faltering slightly, Hakuno paused, pulling her hand away from him.

"I mean- If you don't like sweets, I won't offer them. I just want to make sure you're eating," she told him. "I picked only things I liked when we were in line." And then he had tossed things that she probably should be eating onto her plate. It wasn't unwelcome, but it was funny that he was more concerned about her diet while Archer simply indulged her sweet tooth to its limits.

The man set his tome down though, resting his chin in his hand as he leaned forward to eat from her fork. Those eyes never left hers as he ate.

"...It doesn't quite have enough frosting on it, does it?"

She blinked, shaking her head. "I didn't give you the most frosting on that bite. Hold on."

The man simply waited, eating whatever she fed him so long as she fed him. Watching those red eyes just glint as she fed him, seeing him get a bit of frosting on his lip as he ate; it was distracting. Before long, he picked up his own fork, returning the favor by offering foods from his own plate. If they could be called foods.

"You didn't really pick anything fun to eat, did you?"

Caster glanced between their plates, frowning. "I... I don't believe I pay much attention anymore to what I place on the plate. So long as there is something healthy there that would make Gudako and her second in command stay away from me, I don't particularly care."

And that was sad. Caster was an interesting servant to be around. Resuming her feeding him, Hakuno watched the man slowly become more and more like Archer. His expressions as he ate, as he indulged himself in something purely for the pleasure of doing that something, was worth losing some of her food. At the same time, she was probably going to need to thank him at some point for having her eat something her stomach wouldn't consider junk food.

"Hakuno."

"Hmm?"

The man leaned forward, wiping at her chin. "You've gotten a bit of the porridge on your chin."

"You've got frosting on your lip."

"Oh?" He wiped at his lip a moment before Hakuno moved his hands out of the way, leaning up before she could stop herself. Her lips pressed against his, tongue swiping across the bit of frosting before she felt his hands around her waist. His lips sealed against her own, tongue meeting hers as though to steal back the bit of cream he had ended up with on his face to begin with.

The feel of his quiet laugh could be felt as she kept her hands on his shoulders, those eyes of his gleaming in mischief as he pulled back and smirked in that all too familiar way of his.

"We do have training grounds to get to today, despite how enjoyable this is."

They did. She had forgotten about that. Feeding him had become the priority. She'd gotten all caught up in seeing him enjoy himself for once. Perhaps Archer had held a point about the man being boring. Too many duties had probably bogged down the man, leaving him with no choice but to cut himself off from having indulgences like he should.

Another task for working with Caster. She'd get on that in time.

“Are you sure we should just go with the two of us?” Pulling away, Hakuno piled their plates up, tidying their space a bit before a servant passed by, collecting them from her and wandering off without a word.

“Knowing Ozymandias as only a king would, I’m guessing he is already waiting with Nitocris at the control area for getting to the training grounds. The two of them are never late for opportunities.” Caster replied easily. One of the Gates of Babylon appeared next to his tome, the volume being swept into the portal before it closed once more.

“It’ll be nice to have company to train with.”

“I would rather have trained alone with you, but I’m sure that they’ll be insistent. Or worse, allow it on the condition that they get to be alone with you. Ozymandias was found moving his belongings with the help of his medjed this morning. I believe he already has plans in place for something.”

“He was?”

“He’s moving in a few doors down from Archer.”

“Why?!” Even asking though, the answer was plain. He was trying to be close by. As someone wanting to be her servant, he was doing the same thing Archer had done before. He was planning to inch his way into whatever he wanted. She almost wanted to groan at the tactic. She wasn't the best at avoiding servants that were like that.

Her hold of Caster's arm wasn't even dawning on her until she felt his hand cover hers. “We should get going. I have a lot of work to do for Uruk.”

“I want to help you with that, if you’ll let me.”

“You’ve made your desires to help plain, Hakuno. Having you be knowledgeable in Sumerian actually makes you of use to me. Once our study of Sumerian is complete, I will take you up on assisting me in many more of the city’s ruling matters.”

“You need to rest more too. Everyone says that you spend too much time working and don’t rest enough. I don’t want you to end up collapsing during battle.”

He just chuckled at the concern, pulling her closer to kiss her.

“You’re not taking me seriously.”

“I am, but your concerns are useless. Focus on preparing for training. You will have three servants to command when we go.”

Three servants.

Hakuno could only imagine what that was going to be like as she let the man lead her from the room. They meandered through the various corridors, Gilgamesh’s attire changing as they marched they went. Once more, the vest clad man she had found sleeping was before her in full preparation. A tome appeared under his arm as she walked behind him, holding his hand every step of the way.

Ozymandias and Nitocris would be relying on her to be able to give them commands like she had done with Archer…

More like, they would be relying on her to give commands in general. Archer had always gone ahead with taking the lead, telling others what to do as he went. When she had been in parts, her other selves had still let the servant lead. She’d never been in a battle or situation where she had been in full control.

Her grip tightened on Caster’s.

Her magic circuits had always worked, but not quite as well as they could have. Since she was a lower ranked mage, a part of her was stuck on the idea that her circuits could never work properly. No matter how much she tried, her magecraft had never worked in the same manner that the others had been able to successfully manage. Rin and Rani had always been able to accomplish so much more. If one of them were here, they would be able to command the three servants without batting an eye. And then the others…

“Hakuno.”

They were no longer moving. Somehow, while she had been thinking, they had come to a stop. As she looked up at him, she could see those eyes trying to understand why she had not responded to him. Caster’s hold on her pulling her closer to himself.

How long had he been calling her name?

“Hakuno, what’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing. I let my thoughts get the best of me.”

“I have no time for lies, Master,” he chastised. The grip he had was released, his arms pulling her close so that he could press her against the wall. “I thought you were interested in being a support for missions and for servants.”

“I am.”

“Do you not like the choices that you have received? Should I stay behind? Would you prefer Cu Caster join you?”

Cu Caster? Had he thought she had enjoyed the other's company- No. He wouldn't think that. Hakuno shook her head at the man, looking up at him defiantly. “Absolutely not. This training is for us.”

Hakuno froze, her face close to Gil’s. Those hands of his moved into her hair, tangling in the mass of brown to keep her close. “Hakuno,” he murmured. “If it is not about who you are going with or what you are doing with them, then what is wrong with you?”

"It's no-"

"Hakuno," he purred, his body looming over her. Those rough hands were caressing her cheeks, keeping her so close. Once more, she had to look up into that face she had slept next to for so many nights. Once more, she had to remind her mind and body that she was better than the women that had simply swooned at the king's feet.

She had self control.

Probably.

“I was worrying about my magic circuits," she told him quietly. "I couldn’t do magecraft like my friends could. Archer knows better than anyone how I ended up before.”

“Circuits are simply rivers beneath the skin.”

She frowned at the description.

“While I cannot feign total knowledge of circuits, I can tell you this. I have become a mage in order to showcase the unparalleled prowess that I contain. There is no battle I cannot win. No mystery I cannot unfold.” He leaned in closer, smirking, “and there is no man capable of emotion as potent and honest as me. If I must obey your commands, my master, then know that I will also expect you to obey my commands. Once we are done with this training, I will uncover what is happening with your circuits and correct the matter for you. So long as you look at me with the look on your face that you have now.”

“You always boss me around in one form or another. I can’t say I expected that to change.”

Once again, she found herself kissing him. His lips moved so slowly, tongue invading her mouth so precisely. Her hands went to his shoulders, keeping a hold on him so that she could focus on what was happening right here and now. She needed to stay grounded. Too often, the man would sweep things into the direction he wanted. He would simply take what he pleased.

Archer would anyway.

His hands drifted down to her shoulders, lower yet. They reached her lower back only to hoist her up in his arms. The tome under his arm fell to the floor with a clatter, but she was too preoccupied to look.

Her body shivered a little, her lips pulling back from his only when she found her head swimming. Air was lost to him. She opened her eyes to look down at him as she pulled away. A smirk was firmly in place on his face.

“Depend on me, Hakuno.”

“I would trust you with my life, Gilgamesh.”

His smile was too dazzling. Her stomach was fluttering at the sight of it.

Something smacked against the back of his head.

“Put my wife reincarnate down, Caster. We’re supposed to be training and I find you out here, pressing your lips upon her!”

“I was kissing my master, mongrel. Be grateful she has placed me in an amicable mood.”

Hakuno stopped the cane from hitting him this time, moving to climb down from Caster’s arms. “Ozymandias, shall we go?”

“You could have allowed him to be struck once more.” Ozymandias’s cane vanished, his arm wrapping around her waist as Nitocris and Cu Caster peered out from a room nearby. “Partake in my company instead, master.”

“We’re going as a team,” Hakuno reminded him.

“Of course. Two casters are useful for empowering the splendid sun.”

She stopped listening as he went on, reaching behind herself to pull Caster’s hand into hers. Despite Ozy’s hold, she glanced back to see Caster ignoring the man as well. His hold on her hand went to his lips, a kiss pressing lightly to her knuckles as they entered the room.

Caster was a man obsessed with touch. She'd have to remember that when she was spending time with him.

“You ready for this?” Cu grinned from the control panel nearby.

“As though that is a question needing to be asked,” Nitocris replied, waving her hand at the man before she moved forward. “You will need this headset, master. Gudako uses it to tell what affinity enemies are in the training grounds and to communicate with whoever is at the control panel.”

“I’ll only have you go through one training ground for today,” Cu told him. “A long one with lots of strong opponents. I figure it’ll be a good start for you all.”

Gil nodded, helping her set the headpiece into place before opening the door to an empty room. “Remember to keep an eye on things, Cu.”

“I’ve got this. I’ve helped Da Vinci a handful of times before.” He motioned them all through. “Worst thing ever lost was a penis once, but-“

“INSOLENCE!”

The man slammed the door shut as Ozy began to argue, laughing before his voice came over an intercom.

“Hold on, everyone," Cu called. "You're going in!”

Chapter Text

Everything around them morphed and changed. In a flash of blinding white light, they were travelling. Her body pulled in a thousand different ways, body going cold as they migrated.

Vaguely, just barely, her mind felt like she had done this before. Perhaps to end up in Chaldea to begin with.

The world came into fruition, trees rising up into the skies. The ground beneath their feet hit their feet hard, dropping her to her knees.

“Hakuno.” Caster moved forward, bending over a little to offer a hand. “Are you alright?”

She opened her mouth to speak, but the world around them was tugging at her somehow. It was like her heart was racing too hard for her to be able to breathe. There was hardly the chance to speak. It was all she could do not to simply lay out across the jungle floor and let her heart take its sweet time slowing back down.

“It’s the mana around here,” Nitocris moved forward, leaning over her as well. “Breathe through it. Every master has this problem the first time they enter a singularity or training grounds for the first time.”

Caster frowned at her, saying nothing.

“Easy now,” Nitocris wrapped an arm around her waist, helping her to her feet slowly. Far too slowly, Hakuno thought, feeling bad for making the woman take on most the weight with helping her up. “There we go, my fellow pharaoh.”

“How… How do you… know so much about singularities?”

Nitocris just smiled. “I watched my current master attempt to go to one too many trainings with servants in hand. She keeps a meter now to track it and keeps apples on her person to help keep her energy up. I suppose they’re easier to carry than a lot of other foods.”

“We’ll have to stock a bag for you in the future,” Caster told her.

That wasn’t a bad idea.

“Where’s Ozymandias?” Hakuno looked around, frowning more.

“Hmm? My pharaoh king?” Nitocris looked around as well, eyes widening. “…That damn idiot probably messed up the rayshift!”

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Caster’s hand lifted up, opening one of the Gates of Babylon to pull out a couple fabrics from within. “Since Cu Chulainn wasn’t sensing that a colder environment would be more suitable for the attire we dressed you in, Hakuno, let me be the first to correct the matter before you suffer from the heat.”

“Pharaoh!”

Nitocris looked around again as she called out to the man, motioning to the two of them.

“Wait here a moment. I need to find Ozymandias.”

“That’s fine. Go ahead and have a look around. The sooner we find him, the better.”

The woman was gone, running into the brush nearby and continuing to call for the other pharaoh. Caster moved forward, wrapping the larger fabric over her person as she moved to change.

“With Cu at the controls, I don’t wish for him to enjoy what sights are only for me.”

Hakuno shook her head at the man, frowning after a moment as she looked at what he handed through the blanket to her.

The Moon Cell dress… How would he have this?

It didn’t make any sense for him to have this in the gates. Not unless they were connected to Archer’s gates. Even then, Archer had made it clear that he thought very little of the dress in hand. If anything, he seemed intent on sharing his rather gaudy taste in clothing with her as much as possible.

So why would Caster know of this dress and know she would wear it. It was still long.

She slipped into it easily, lifting the hem to tear slightly and tie into a more walkable sort of clothing.

It probably didn’t look as nice this way, but it would work. Especially with the weather as it was, she could easily move around and function in this clothing now.

“I’m ready.”

Lifting the blanket up a little, Hakuno peered out from underneath the blanket, smiling up at Caster as she held out the sweater dress from before.

“Thank you for thinking about the heat. I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to it.”

Caster’s gaze flickered over her though, narrowed slightly.

“…Is something wrong, Gil?” She looked down as well, spinning around a little to try to see if maybe there was something stuck on her.

“I feel as though this dress is familiar on you. Although, I know for a fact that this dress was kept closer to Archer’s collection of nonsense in the Gates of Babylon.”

So he had kept it. Hakuno grinned at him, watching him toss the sweater dress into the gates. “I was curious about how the Gates of Babylon worked.”

“It is a space outside of space and time. It’s where I keep my treasures and valuables… and occasionally becomes my child self’s trash can, much to mine and Archer’s distaste.” The man shook his head. “The child has no sense of value as of yet. All he can think of is what gives him joy. Dreams and wastes the days away with his games.”

“Could a person go into the Gates of Babylon?”

Caster frowned, “Why would someone want to go there?”

“I don’t know. It just sounds interesting.”

“It is not for humanity to see, Hakuno.”

Figures.

Hakuno brushed at the skirts of the dress, looking around again as Caster tossed the blanket into Babylon as well.

“About the dress, it’s the one I wore when I was on the Moon Cell. It’s been a really long time since I’ve worn it. I actually thought Archer had destroyed it. He hated this dress.” And her school uniform. Was that in the gates too?

“Would you like to simply stand here or experience your first training session alongside me?” Caster motioned towards a nearby path. “Nitocris is taking her time in trying to find the king. We could make use of this time to survey the area.”

“We said we’d wait for her.”

“We said she could go, not that we’d stay. If you’ll recall, you merely said that finding Ozymandias would be more beneficial the sooner it was.” Caster’s smile lit up the world as he smiled at her. For a moment, he almost looked like his child self. The grins he gave were filled with nothing but trouble. How she had missed that was beyond her. “I would like to be able to work together with you.”

She found herself smiling back at him, taking his hand for no other reason than it was his hand. Rough and familiar as could be. It was Gilgamesh, through and through. Gilgamesh, who had escorted her for all this time. Gilgamesh, who had declared he would have no friend other than Enkidu and would have no master, but had relented after working with her.

Despite the world around them, it felt the same as before. Gilgamesh with his chest showing. Her in the clothing that the Moon Cell had given her.

It was just like before.

“So,” Gilgamesh held onto her hand as they moved through the jungle. “What kind of magic does my master use? Are you simply a support or can you attack more directly?”

“Ah- I…” What was a nice way of saying she was purely support?

She hadn’t been good on the Moon Cell at using any kind of attacks. It had been so bad that her friends had almost had no faith in her to begin with for fighting, but Gilgamesh had made them think twice. He had guided her through everything, taunting her through it all. She had fought against servants like Bathory and BB without hesitation, knowing that the king was at her side.

She had tried to do what her friends had been able to do though. Rin had been talented at focusing energy into bullet like shots and hitting enemies. Rani had also had some kind of talent… She couldn’t remember what she had done…

That made her pause.

Was she forgetting things after all?

“Hakuno?”

“I have never tried to do direct attacks before, but if this is a training ground, then I want to try to attack too.”

“Direct attacks…” Gilgamesh moved them through the brush to a clearing, looking around before he nodded to himself. “Very well. What kind of direct attacks would you like to work on. We’ll stay near the rayshift spot and work on training a bit before we find our enemies and kill them.”

“There’s this attack my friend could do when I was with her.” Hakuno pointed her hand like a gun towards the king, “she could just aim and shoot an attack in their direction.”

“You want to shoot pure mana at them?”

“Yes.”

The man blinked before shaking his head. “It would be easier if you had something to focus energy into or through. Perhaps I should have stolen Cu Chulainn’s staff for you after all.”

“If I can shoot mana myself, I won’t need a staff.”

He was looking around though, shaking his head. “The problem with that kind of attack is that it will consume a great deal of energy from you. With your energy levels lower than they were before, I don’t want to wear you out before you have trained.”

“We’ll take it one day at a time. While Gudako is in her singularity, we can train every day.”

That seemed to sound quite nice to him. The king was nodding, moving to stand behind her and run his hand along hers. “I suppose this is fine then.” He leaned in close, tome moving under her other hand. “Put your hand on my tome. We will use our mana together for now. I want to keep your mana levels at a certain point.”

“Right.” She followed his direction.

“Point your hand towards that tree over there,” the man murmured. “What you’re going to do for that kind of attack is focus on the mana running through your arm. When you think you’ve gathered it up into a ball, you’re going to pull it towards yourself as tightly as you can before releasing it through your hand. If your arm stays straight, then it should hit the tree.”

“Should?”

“Come now, you don’t expect that I have so foolishly tried such a thing. These kind of attacks would drain energy faster than anything else I could do. If you are interested in fighting more directly, then our reading training for Sumerian will need to go into reading magecraft. I think that would be far more suitable.”

“Do they have other attacks I could learn?”

“Hakuno, we’re in enemy territory.”

“Right. Right.” She focused back on the tree, closing her eyes a moment.

She needed to gather her energy. Somehow, he had made it sound so simple. Her mana was running as per usual, flowing awkwardly through her veins as the caster behind her remained in her space, pressed against her back.

Focus…

Focus, Hakuno.

The mana wasn’t working like that though. It flowed through her arm as though to gather together, but flowed right back into the rest of her.

“Having trouble?”

“How do I gather it?” Hakuno looked over her shoulder towards the king, scowling.

“Magecraft does not come simply at one’s beck and call, Hakuno. There’s a reason that casters are their own class of servants.” The man moved the tome closer to her chest, his hand wrapping around hers more. “I will assist you this once on forming a shot, if only to allow you to feel how to gather the mana yourself.”

It was a night and day effect.

Thick, unending mana flowed forth from the tome against her chest, running through her upper body to her arm. Once there, it was trapped, gathering and flowing in that tight space as more gathered. Tighter and tighter, he made the mana remain in such a small space. It felt like her arm would blow if it didn’t get released.

Closing her eyes, she could feel two loose strands of mana streaming from the ball shaped mana. Like a slingshot, it was pulled back. She could almost feel it reach her shoulders when it flew forth.

Straight out, a great ball of crackling energy flew at the tree ahead. The ball hit it directly in the center, smashing it backwards and knocking a few other trees down with it.

“Shit, Caster.” Hakuno stared at the destruction ahead of her, eyes wide. “That was amazing.”

“Simple. The word you are looking for is simple.” Caster moved to stand up properly, closing his tome. “And I cannot take much credit. I was using your mana and a slight amount from my tome. It is nothing to help a fellow mage with her mana.”

“You were astounding!” Hakuno beamed up at him, holding both his hands in hers. “Do you know how many times I tried to get Rin to teach me how to do that? She could never teach me either! You’re amazing!”

Face warming, the king just stared at her.

“I mean it. Thank you!”

“Yes, well,” he pulled her closer with their connected hands, leaning down slightly. “It’s time for you to attempt such an attack yourself. It won’t be long before we’re fighting together and I want you to be able to perform such actions without having to spend so much time charging.”

“Right.” She yanked her hands free, turning around and closing her eyes. She had to follow his lead. He had pulled the energy from the tome he had kept against her chest. She tried to gather mana from there instead. Such warm, excited mana now.

It moved, flowing as usual until Hakuno pushed to keep it in her arm. Her hand tingled, as though she had been laying on it for hours instead of trying to focus mana in it.

She pushed the mana tighter and tighter in her arm. Squeezing her eyes shut, she pushed it into a tighter space.

Suddenly it was gone, shooting forth before she could stop it. The sound of something falling behind her could be heard as she looked at the power shooting forth. It wasn’t a ball.

It was a stream.

It shot forth for a full second, all but melting the trees on the other side of the clearing.

“Hakuno! Caster!”

Ozymandias’ voice came from the direction of the damage as Hakuno felt her vision swim for a minute. Gathering herself back up, she felt Caster’s arms wrap around her.

“That was not expected.”

“It just-“ she stared over her shoulder at him, grasping desperately for words. “I meant to do what you did, but it… And I just-“

“Do not question what you can do.” Caster’s smile was back in full form. “No two mages performs magic in the same manner. For you, focusing and using your mana is fluid, not something that can be altered and transformed into something like your friend’s old magic tricks.”

“You managed it.”

“Age,” he told her simply, glancing over at the approaching pharaohs. “Ozymandias. Nitocris. Have you both decided to stop playing around in the brush?”

Hakuno pushed the glasses up her nose a bit, seeing the data running across the lenses as the two approached. She frowned a little, noting the lower stats for Nitocris.

“I was dropped into a river,” Ozymandias growled. “For some reason, our useless rayshift controller thought it apt to simply dump me in such putrid streams.” He brushed at himself again, not looking a bit like he had fallen in a stream. “If my brother were here, I would have landed on solid ground. Parting of the seas and whatnot.”

“I’m glad you found us,” Hakuno replied.

“My little master, did you cause this?” Ozy motioned over at the damage.

“We were practicing while you were being located, not that you needed to hurry. Hakuno and I were enjoying our training very much.”

Caster was looking for trouble with lines like that, but the pharaoh simply waved a hand. “It’s truly magnificent to see your work in action, if only in aftermath, my master. However, you seem like you have less energy.”

“I’m fine,” Hakuno shook her head at him and wrapped her arm around Caster’s. “We should get moving to find the enemies here though.

“Has Cu Chulainn Caster given you any indication as to where the enemies are?” Nitocris asked.

“Huh?”

“Cu Chulainn should be able to communicate with you through the headset.” Caster motioned at the hooks that went over her ears. “He should be talking to you right now.”

“It’s just been static.” A faint static, but she had figured it was just the sound of the glasses working. Was Cu supposed to be talking to her?

“Then we should hurry this up.” Caster nodded towards the way the pharaohs had come. “That way for now. We’ll head to that river of yours and follow it to the enemies. If the enemies have been waiting, then they’ll be going after food and water.”

Forward, they went. Through the high trees and the world of colors. Hakuno kept her hand firmly on Caster Gil’s vest, stopping for only a moment as the man tied her hair back and threw her a grin.

He was pretty.

Archer had always been the most handsome being she had ever seen in her life. Always would be, but seeing him as a Caster, with a country that meant the world to him and being away from it and focused on all these other situations and circumstances that became available to him: he was even more complicated.

And as the sunlight trickled through the great green leaves over their heads, sending his hair into the very rays of sunshine and gold themselves, she couldn’t help but to think about how he looked. Her hand tightened against him a little more, thankful she had opted for his vest rather than his hand.

He would have looked back, flashing another smile her way.

Nitocris looked back at her, rolling her eyes as Hakuno found herself caught looking at the king. The woman moved closer to Ozymandias, murmuring quietly before the man frowned. He too looked back, stopping in his progress to move to her side.

“Are you getting tired, Hakuno?”

“Ah- No. I’m fine?”

“What’s going on, pharaoh?” Caster glanced over at them, frowning.

“I am going to hold Hakuno’s hand for now.” Ozymandias stole her hand away. “I am concerned about the heat after using so much energy.” He smiled her way. “If you find you are running low on energy, simply take from me. I will let the mana flow to you without hesitation.”

“I… I should be fine. Besides, isn’t it a bit more complicated to do mana transfers?” If she could recall, they required far more intimate…

She wasn’t going to think about that right now.

“Ah- Not to worry! Cu Caster is watching from his place beside the rayshift room. Performing mana transfers requires far greater ambiance and less voyeurs.” Ozymandias laughed, the sound grating at her sanity.

“Let’s go.” She moved forward, keeping the man’s hand if only to keep him from complaining.

Once more, Hakuno focused on their surroundings, straining to hear more than the birds singing and the sound of their feet crunching through the brush and debris. The sound of babbling water could be heard as they progressed through the area, giving warning a moment before they saw the little stream.

“We should cross.”

“Absolutely.”

Her headset crackled, but it seemed like the man over the mic wasn’t going to argue.

Ozymandias grinned at her, reaching out with his cane and sending a tree crashing across a slimmer part of the stream. Gilgamesh and Nitocris proceeded first, the former’s hand reaching behind him to help her as Ozy took up the rear.

Ever forward they went.

“Do you think that Cu made a mistake,” Hakuno asked, watching the sun continue its descending path behind the treeline.

“Either that or the enemies killed themselves.” Gil yawned, shaking his head. “Here I had assumed he would send us straight into the battle. Of all things, making kings walk for such lengths.”

“You trust him too much,” Ozymandias complained.

Looking over at the quiet Nitocris, Hakuno could see sweat dripping down the woman’s face. Despite being from a warm world like Ozymandias, it made sense she would be getting overheated. Her hair was down too.

That wasn’t going to work in her favor if they walked further into the world.

“Nitocris!” Hakuno moved forward, yanking the tie from her hair as she went.

“M-Master?”

“Here,” she moved without pause, gathering up the purple hair into her hands. “You’re going to get overheated at this rate. I’ll tie it up for now so you can cool down a little.”

“It’ll be fine. I’m a pharaoh and we thrive in warm climates such as this!” She motioned at the two men nearby. “Like my kings, I am capable of-“

“I just want to spoil you then,” Hakuno told her, watching the woman begin to blush.

“Ah- As expected, I suppose. You’ve always been overly kind.” She smiled despite her words, accepting her hair being tied into a bun.

“Hakuno,” Caster waved at her. “Do you want another tie for your hair?”

“I’ll be fine,” Hakuno replied.

“Thank you, Hakuno.” Nitocris leaned in, pressing her lips to her cheek. “You are very kind to think of your team so carefully.”

“O-of course.”

She hadn’t expected the woman to kiss her in return.

It was just so…

She wasn’t even sure what to think of it.

“Nefertari!”

Ozymandias wrapped his arms around her as she was yanked aside. Something leaped forth from the depths of the waters. Several somethings. They climbed down from the trees as Hakuno looked back to where she had been standing.

A sword stood upright, having hit the ground with enough force to be lodged into the earth.

“Nitocris! Gilgamesh,” Ozymandias called to them both. “Provide support!”

“Such an eyesore,” Caster sighed, his tome back in hand as he, Ozymandias, and Nitocris began to light up.

No, not light up. It was mana.

Was that what he had done before when she had been trying to learn how to attack?

Hakuno stared over at him a moment as Ozymandias waved his cane towards the skeletons that were climbing from all around them.

“Hakuno? Fuckin’ shit, if you can hear me.”

“Cu?” Hakuno pressed a hand to one ear, running behind Ozymandias as the man continued to shout orders at the two other servants. “Are you there?”

“Shit, woman. Took long enough!”

“Cu, there’s skeletons everywhere!”

“Stats are on the screen.” The man’s voice was louder than necessary, but she didn’t have time to tell him that. She dodged another attack from one of the skeletons, moving to Caster’s back. He straightened her arm, looking around at the mob that was quickly forming.

“Cu, any ideas?”

Ozymandias and Nitocris were attacking more one on one and that wasn’t going to work. She didn’t know these servants! If only she had Karna or Archer. She could use them right now!

“Nitocris specializes in numbers,” Cu replied. “She summons medjed and skeletons of her own.”

“NITOCRIS!” Hakuno called out to the woman. “WE NEED TO EVEN THE NUMBERS!”

“You’ve got it! Behold your fellow pharaoh’s power!” She waved her staff, opening portals along the riversides. Suddenly, sheeted beings burst forth from the portals. They were everywhere at once, knocking the skeletons down where they stood.

“That’s better,” Cu murmured in her ear, voice filled with what had to be relief. “Well played.”

“What’s Ozy’s power,” Hakuno asked him, looking towards the darkening skies by where the sun was sinking. If Ozymandias was a sun king like he had told her, then would his power decrease with the sun setting?

“He specializes with light. Think long distance attacks like Archer Gil.”

Right.

Winged creatures flew forth from the darkness in the skies.

No that wasn’t quite right.

Winged creatures separated from one another, showing just what that darkness in the distance had been. Their wings expanded over the skies, their heads letting out roars that shook the trees and scared off a few of the skeletons on the ground near them.

Her blood ran cold at the sight of them, but she looked over at Gilgamesh and nodded. “Can you boost up Ozymandias again, Gil?”

“That you have to ask is insulting,” the man told her simply, already raising his tome again.

The three lit up with more mana, Hakuno aimed an attack towards the nearest winged creature, shooting it down before she looked to Ozymandias.

“Ozy! Show me what you’ve got!”

The man simply laughed, raising himself and his staff together into the air. The world turned to pure darkness, the sun vanishing as the ground began to rumble.

And as quickly as it had gone dark, light illuminated the land. Pyramids descended… no ascended.

Two great pyramids raced to meet one another as Gilgamesh wrapped an arm around her waist and began to run down the sides of the pyramid. Ozymandias’ laugh could be heard as he focused on bringing the two pyramids racing towards one another to hit the winged beings.

Nitocris was running alongside them, beaming as she looked back.

“Allow me to help, my king!”

The woman shone like gold, a portal opening behind her as something- some things slithered forth through the air towards the other winged creatures.

Hakuno held onto Gil as they reached the earth again.

The winged beings dropped like flies.

Literally.

Their bodies rained down behind the pharaohs, Ozymandias’ golden eyes looking over at her as he simply smiled. That golden color seemed to gleam with an inner light as he moved forward, brushing himself off as he focused only on her.

“An impressive command,” he told her. “Nothing less than what I would expect from mine.”

Gil looked over at Nitocris, letting go of her as he went to stop the woman from collapsing.

“You used too much energy at once, Nitocris,” he chastised.

“It’s fine. I just used one of my other skills to keep my strength.” She held her arm, smiling a little as she looked over at him.

Gil pulled his turban from his hair, unravelling it and wrapping it around her arm. “You were foolish. Do not make my master suffer seeing you lost. Your presence is enough of a burden to me. Your absence will make matters worse.”

“Hakuno.”

Hakuno glanced away from the two Casters, attention back on the pharaoh before her.

“You’re arm is bleeding.” The pharaoh held up her arm, drawing her attention to the blood.

“It must have been when I was using my mana attack,” Hakuno replied, shaking her head. “It’ll be fine. I’ll wait until we’re done and then-“

He moved in closer, lips pressing against her own before she felt his mana spring forth. There was so much energy at once. Electric in her veins as she felt her arm stop aching slightly. Not only that, there was so much other energy that bloomed forth from nowhere. Hakuno felt like running after more enemies from the power springing forth.

The pharaoh pulled back, smirking. “Technically, I can only heal myself, but if I am connected intimately to someone… It’s fun to know that I can assist you in that manner.”

He wasn’t fair when he smiled like that. Like he had the world in his hands and in heaven. She turned her gaze away, unable to look at such personal joy at helping someone else like that. It wasn’t fair to have someone be so happy over helping someone else like that. Without complaint.

Something was moving towards them.

Hakuno moved without thinking, yanking the pharaoh down with her. Their bodies rolled, her focus broken as the thing reached them, passing over them both.

No, it was three stone beings.

“Golems,” Cu told her over the headset. “Those are stronger ones too.”

Stronger? Than what they’d faced?

Ozymandias was beneath her, face against her chest as she looked over at Gilgamesh and Nitocris. They were closer. If anything happened, they would be the first to be attacked. Nitocris was so tired-

“Gilgamesh!” Hakuno called out to the king, seeing those eyes dart her way before landing on their enemies. His body moved in front of Nitocris, blocking her.

But it wouldn’t be enough against three enemies. He couldn’t be everywhere. That left-

“Gil! I COMMAND YOU TO USE YOUR NOBLE PHANTASM!”

Gilgamesh’s eyes gleamed, symbols raising around his person. “It would appear that your time’s up,” Caster purred, eyeing their enemy a moment before walls rose up from within the trees. The symbols around the king began to spin, the city of the woods letting loose a series of firepower in the direction of the enemy.

There wasn’t a chance for whatever it was. Hakuno watched the attack land and the light that flooded the area.

It could only be Uruk, she thought to herself as she saw the Sumerian script on the walls of the great fortress. Her eyes ran over the writing, trying to decipher it as the weapons drew her gaze away. She followed after them, watching one of the golems try to head towards them, trying to avoid the attacks.

It was going to evade.

Aiming her arm again, Hakuno stared directly at the thing. She needed more energy.

The others were putting in so much effort. She could too.

Mana flared up around her, her eyes narrowing at her target as she felt the influx of energy. Just one good shot. She’d aim for the head, taking out its functions. If her attack hit lower, she’d hit its chest and that was fine too.

Just a little-

The mana flowed forth again, the attack stronger and more forceful than it had when Gilgamesh had helped her. Straight as well for once, landing exactly where she had wanted it to hit. The beast roared loudly, falling back as its body began to crumble. Not far from it, the other golems crumbled to the attacks of Gilgamesh’s noble phantasm.

Everything faded around them.

Hakuno’s hands grasped for Ozymandias, immediately clinging to him as she felt panic set in. It was too much like before with deletion.

“…Hakuno…”

A hand stroked at her hair, a gentle whirring meeting her ears as the world around them became colder.

“My little wife,” Ozymandias murmured, arms wrapping around her tightly. “Such a kitten, to cling to its master when frightened. I am here. Fear not. Take pride in your protecting of me. I could ask for no greater master.”

They were still…

They were still alive?

Hakuno opened her eyes slightly, glancing over the pharaoh’s shoulder at the far wall of the rayshift room. Somehow, with the destruction of the monsters, they had been brought back here. They were back in Chaldea.

“How did we get back?”

“That’s how training works,” Caster’s voice responded, drawing her attention to the fact that she was clinging to the pharaoh and remaining on his lap in the room. She pulled back, throwing Gilgamesh a sheepish look.

She hadn’t meant to be that close to the pharaoh. She had just needed him not to get hurt on her watch. Just as she knew Caster had wanted to help Nitocris because they were allies, so had she with Ozymandias.

But the pharaoh hugged her to himself, laughing a little.

“Well done, everyone. It was certainly exciting! You may all take your leave of my master and I.”

“Of course,” Nitocris replied.

“No,” Gil crossed his arms, gaze narrowing. “Release my master back to me. She and I have plans this evening.”

“We are muddy and tired,” Ozymandias waved a hand at the man, dismissing him. “Return to your chambers, king.”

“And I informed you that was not the case.” Caster took a step forward, pausing as a handful of medjed held him in place. Those red eyes of his looked over at Nitocris. “As the only king in this place that has respect for Casters in their full abilities and potential, I demand you release me to retrieve my master, Nitocris. Do not make me repeat myself… or retaliate.”

“My pharaohs,” Nitocris looked over at them. “Why don’t you both go for a bath and reacquaint yourselves more intimately. I will hold our friend here.”

“Nitocris-“

Before she could argue, a cloak was wrapped around her body, Ozymandias hoisting her up over his shoulder. The world spun around in front of her.

She had used too much mana in the training grounds.

The door opened nearby as Cu Caster looked in. Before he could argue, the pharaoh holding her was around him, heading out of the room as Gilgamesh glared at Nitocris.

The sounds of attacks could be heard as Ozymandias carried her off.

Things went black again, leaving her at the pharaoh’s mercy.

Chapter Text

The world around her came into fruition with a thousand golden rays of sunlight. Or rather, there were gold pieces that were jutting out from what could only be a depiction of the sun. A cool breeze drifted through the otherwise steamy room. The sound of trickling water flowing somewhere outside of her view.

Hakuno stared up at the scene above her, trying to remember how she had gotten here.

She had been with Archer and Caster that morning. They had argued with Nitocris…

Right, she had been with Nitocris and Caster later on in the day…

They had gone to the training grounds. They had been intending to try out fighting for once. She had gone with them and Ozymandias…

And then…

And then…

Her head was aching, arm throbbing before she felt something being smoothed over it.

“Hakuno, are you awake?”

Ozymandias was speaking to her. Glancing over at him, she could see the concern etched into his features, marring the boyish expressions he normally gave her.

“Hakuno?”

“I’m fine. Just really tired and my arm hurts.”

“Your mana that you used was far more than you’re used to, isn’t it?” The pharaoh stood up, making her notice what was also different.

He had changed. The robes hanging over his shoulders, a vibrant jade color, accompanied the gold and blue necklaces that hung from his neck. His hair was wet, as though he had taken a shower…

Wait.

Hakuno moved to sit up, slowly since her body was sore all over.

“Careful,” Ozymandias moved to help her sit, bringing her into view of the whole room.

And what a room it was. It didn’t look or feel like she was in Chaldea anymore. A pair of herons were preening in one corner as they stood inside a far grander fountain than the one Gilgamesh had possessed in his room. The room had what could only be fake windows. That or Nitocris had done some kind of magic to allow him to have window portals into somewhere warm. The view of the desert and pyramids could be seen from the windows, although it was hard to see too much with the thick curtains he had hanging on either side of the windows in the room.

Truly, it took a moment to find the door to the room, looking as much like the Chaldea doors as any of the other rooms.

So they were still there.

Hakuno leaned against the pharaoh, unable to help it. She needed the support at the moment. It must have been a delayed fatigue or something. She had never actually tried to use Rin’s style of attacks before. It was impressive that she had even managed as much as she had.

“Welcome to our chambers.” Ozymandias pointed towards a corner. “If you’d like, you are more than welcome to visit with the sphynx when you have the energy. Or we could indulge in some music played by lyre. I acquired some decent music from the master of Chaldea that allows us to indulge in musicians without them needing to be present. We can repeat songs so many times without hearing complaint.”

“Where’s Gilgamesh?”

“Which do you refer?”

“Any of them,” Hakuno shook her head. “I should get back to Archer’s room, but he’s at that singularity. I should probably stay with Caster.”

“No need.” Ozymandias smiled at her. “As my wife and master, you have no need to look to them for protection and assistance. I am wholly at your beck and call,” he leaned in closer, “as I have always been.”

What was he talking about? Was he still under the impression that she was Nefertari?

“Ozy-“

“You have no need to complain for now. Moving you at present would result in more fatigue. Allow me just a bit of time.” The man moved to stand, looking around his room a moment before he grinned over at her. “I have many manners to which we could spend our time, but I think the best way for now would be to simply indulge in some music and take in the company of one another.”

Why did that sound like a bad plan?

The man was moving across the room though, scooping up a couple sphynxes and depositing them onto her lap. As she welcomed them to her side, the man was on the move once more, going to a CD player tucked behind his throne and looking through the disks he possessed.

“Let me find something we would both enjoy. Indulge in the company of your favorite of my pets while I humor us both.”

Oh. He was-

Well, she could pet the sphynx for a bit. They were rolling around on the bed and leaning against her side. The one against her side still had a bandage on its side, its face nuzzling against her leg.

“How is this one doing?” Hakuno asked.

“Hmm? What was that, my queen?”

“I asked how this sphynx was doing,” Hakuno asked him again, raising her voice so he could hear her better. Honestly, if he didn’t have all the extra fanfare in his room, he would have heard her just fine. What was it with kings and their overdoing things? A bed and dresser worked just fine for a bedroom.

“The little one you saved has been pining for your attentions,” the king declared, turning over a couple CD cases and reading them both. “It has been the most vocal of the lot, disturbing my sleep and earning the attentions of Nitocris. I had half a mind to bring it to Gilgamesh’s chambers to see you, but I assumed he would be less than pleased with the companionship. Besides, I don’t believe my sphynxes are fond of the man. They sneezed on him once.”

Oh yes, sneezing. How dreadful.

She would have paid anything to see Gilgamesh’s face as it sneezed on him.

Pulling back the bandage, Hakuno studied the skin around the stitching. It didn’t look like it was bleeding out anymore. The bandage itself was dry now, showing a faint line where the wound had bled slightly.

“Ozy? Do you have any more bandages?”

“Bandages?”

“For the sphynx?”

The sound of music began to play, coming from a handful of directions as the pharaoh nodded. “I believe I have some. Hold the little one to you a moment.”

The man disappeared, leaving her to wait on his bed.

He had a bigger bed than Gilgamesh did. Had the king been in here? Somehow, she could see him losing his mind if he found that someone’s room was far grander than his own. And Caster had said he had moved his room. How the hell did someone move all this to a different room in such a short amount of time?

The music he had put on sounded like chamber music. Still, he seemed so proud of himself, moving across the room with ease and slipping onto the bed next to her. He rested his head against his hand as he lay on his side. Pulling a tasseled pillow close, he dangled it over one of the sphynxes, laughing at its playful nature.

“Don’t you find them to be as majestic as ever?”

“They’re very cute.”

They were.

Those golden eyes turned in her direction, the tanned pharaoh moving a little closer. “Do you know, I think this is our first time being able to speak alone. You may speak from the soul rather than being mindful, my kitten.”

She really didn’t have anything to say to him in particular, other than the fact that she was not the reincarnation of his dead wife.

“Your music is interesting,” she told him, moving back to lean against the pillows. Her gaze fell lower, to her person before she glanced over at him again. “…You undressed me.”

“Your clothing was stained and torn.” Ozymandias shrugged. “It was in my best interest and yours to see you through a bath and into bed. I was debating on attire and checking on your arm when you awakened. Since you have awakened, I can rectify this issue.”

“May I have your robe please?”

The man simply beamed, handing it over before he stood up.

“I understand your shyness at being shown in your full beauty before me. As Hathor’s incarnate, it is natural for a goddess to need one to earn her body. That being said, you do not remember me and therefore cannot simply know of my legends and prestige. I must earn the sight of your flawless features once more.”

“You’re right.”

Absolutely right. She didn’t need to be naked in front of every damn servant in Chaldea.

The man ran a hand through his hair as he moved over to a set of doors, pulling out a string of fabric to bring her.

“Here, to bind the robe into place. When I have earned your trust and the right to see you in your full splendor, you may unbind the cloth and welcome me in.”

Hakuno didn’t even bother to argue, wrapping her body up and nodding to him. When she had energy, she would just return to Gilgamesh’s room to change and return the robe later.

Still, it left the man bare from the waist up. His fabric that hung around his hips and legs left little to the imagination, instead making her almost regret not making him change into something more. Then again, the kings she had met had held no qualms with nudity. She would probably earn an earful trying to dress him.

“Ozymandias,” Hakuno looked over at him. “You said you had us bathe and I slept here for a while… How long was I out?”

“You were asleep for maybe an hour of this world’s time,” the pharaoh replied. “It is of little concern. Do not fret. I have carried Gudako to her chambers before for similar circumstances. She has used up all of her command spells before and depleted her mana with multiple trainings. When masters go unconscious, it is the mission of their servants to see them to their bed. We bandage and heal what we can… although, it is more the mission of a husband to cater to his wife’s wounds before her servants can get to her. To see her to good health himself, as he vowed long ago.”

“So I’ve been out for an hour.” Hakuno frowned, scratching behind the headdress of one of the sphynxes. It was not bad that she had passed out, but it was bad that she had not heard a thing from Caster. If she could recall, he and Nitocris had been at odds with one another when Ozymandias had carried her out.

The pharaoh glanced at her before pulling a bowl from one of the tables in the room. He moved to the bed again, settling at her side and pulling the sphynxes onto his lap. The bowl of what could only be some kind of glazed bread.

“Do you want some?” The pharaoh held the bowl within her reach. “It is honeyed bread. Nitocris went to the chefs of this place and informed them of what treats I enjoy indulging in. This was made this morning.”

Honeyed bread?

She wasn’t going to say no, especially with her energy low. Picking up a piece, she cooed as the taste hit her mouth. It reminded her of a rather bland but flavored jelly filled donut. The bread broke apart easily, the sweet filling leaving her stomach to grumble at being neglected too often lately.

It was so tasty.

Caster would be fine. He had helped Nitocris before.

“Hand me another.”

“Ah, such a sweet tooth as well.” Ozymandias beamed, moving the bowl between them. “A natural thing for pharaohs, you know. We always enjoy the finest of things.”

It was so good.

So very good.

She had half the bowl gone before she could stop herself. Even as she slowed, she found herself starving for more. Her mana must have been very low or something. She had never been this hungry. Not even when she had skipped dinners or been stuck in the labyrinth with Gilgamesh.

“Allow me to go get more,” Ozymandias murmured, moving to stand up. “When I return, I will pass mana to you.”

Huh? Mana?

“Ozy, wait!”

The pharaoh simply turned, moving towards the door and passing through. “I will return in but a moment, my wife!”

“I-I’m not your wife!”

Damn it all. He was not listening to her at all.

Her sweet tooth was going to be the death of her. Still, she needed to get out of this room.

Carefully, Hakuno moved to the edge of the bed, standing on her own two feet. Testing her footing, she took a small step.

So far, so good.

It had probably been her mana being so low that had been the problem. It still felt low, but the food had helped resolve the worst of the problem and now she needed to get back to Gilgamesh.

Caster had mentioned that Ozymandias had moved his room. It had been an attempt to try to get closer to her. If that was true, she wouldn’t have to travel far to get to Archer’s room. Once there, the man had told her that he was going to put more locks on the door.

She could hide away until Gudako and Gilgamesh Archer came back.

She pushed the control for the door, moving to pass into the hallway when her eyes drifted up the length of a person.

Their red eyes stared directly at hers. Their vest and pants ripped and tattered. A cut was across one face, the cheek red as he looked down at her.

“Are you alright, Caster?”

The man wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into his arms without preamble. Once more, the man was leaning over her, taking up her space. She pulled away slightly, but his lips met hers, claiming them once more.

“Thank, Ninsun.”

“Caster, what happened?” Hakuno pulled away, placing her hands on his shoulders. “I passed out for an hour. I don’t know what’s going on. Who hurt you?”

“I had a fight with Nitocris. It is fine now. She understands her level of importance now.” The man leaned his forehead to hers, smiling softly. “I just needed to see that you were alive and well.”

It was such an odd thing to hear Gilgamesh being so affectionate. Her hands went to his cheeks, eyes focused on his.

It felt good, she decided. She could get used to Gilgamesh like this. Maybe better rested too.

“Let’s go to your room,” she told him.

The man blinked at her, that smile slowly growing before she found herself in his arms. She held onto him anyway, even as he carried her safely down the hall. Her head rested against his chest, eyes closing for just a moment.

And then they were in Caster’s chambers.

“Did I pass out again?”

No, this wasn’t right.

Boxes lined the room, the desk from Caster’s room and his bed being the only two things that looked the same. A set of empty bookcases and boxes lined one side of the room as he locked his door and carried her to bed.

“No, we are in my chambers. I moved my room to the other side of Archer’s room. I never want to separate from you again, Hakuno.”

The man brushed her hair back as he unbelted the robe around her body, letting it fall to the sheets.

“Allow me to show you the depths of my devotion to you.”

Chapter Text

“C-Caster, it’s not- Let’s not be hasty.” Hakuno pulled away from the man, fumbling around as she worked on belting the robes back into place. Thank the Moon Cell she had asked Ozymandias for his robe. Still, she was on a bed with someone that was too much like Archer, but not him.

He was not Archer at all. He was sweet and gentle and definitely not Archer.

Archer would kill him if he found that she had given herself to Caster first.

“Hakuno.”

“I can’t do this.” Hakuno averted her gaze, glancing towards the door. “You have work to do and I’m tired. Can we wait?”

“Ozymandias undressed-“

“He was making sure I was okay like you all have apparently done for Gudako. When I asked, he gave me his robes and told me that he wasn’t going to do anything I didn’t want.” Which was more than gentlemanly than what the man before her was doing. Depths of emotion- she needed a nap. Alone. In Archer’s room.

“You will get cold laying around in the man’s robes. I have yet to change the temperature of this room.” Caster once more summoned the gates of Babylon, pulling out the sweater dress from earlier. “Here.”

“Thank you.”

There wasn’t more to say than that for the moment. The man turned, crossing his arms as she slowly stood up and changed. Once again, she found herself back into comfortable attire. Safely covered once again.

“Caster,” she put a hand on his shoulder, looking up at him as once more those red eyes met hers.

“Is that better for you?”

There wasn’t anything else to do but nod.

“Hakuno,” Caster moved to sit, motioning her to his lap as he went. “What did Ozymandias discuss with you?”

“We didn’t discuss anything. I woke up in his room, asked for some robes, pet the sphynxes, and then I left.”

“If he did anything-“

“Caster, he didn’t do anything.” What was it with these servants and their obsession over her wellbeing around one another? She cupped those cheeks in her hands, holding him in place so she could make him look at her carefully and see reason. “I woke up, dressed in a robe, pet the sphynxes, and left. That’s all. He didn’t touch me inappropriately. He didn’t say anything that was inappropriate,” except when he had mentioned mana transfers as he had left for a few minutes.

“He knows of your value,” Caster warned.

“Yes, but I have you and Archer. I don’t need any other servants.”

“Do you truly care for me that deeply, Hakuno?”

Going to answer, Hakuno paused. The man was looming closer to her, his arms holding her in place. While it would be simple to tell him that she did, because she did, there was a part of her that warned that it wouldn’t end well for her if she agreed.

She shut her eyes, opting for something Nero had done when she was tired from fighting and couldn’t handle attention. She pressed her body against Gilgamesh’s chest, keeping her head under the other’s chin.

Just as she had with Nero, Caster’s hands stroked her hair, the man chuckling.

“It is so hard to be selfish, isn’t it? Do you fear what Archer would think?” Caster leaned in a little more, mouth near her ear. “It would be fine if you chose me over him. I have analyzed every crevice of this place. I know every servant’s weakness. I know every escape route and how the Mage Association keeps tabs on singularities and the masters that pass through here. I can bring you into my kingdom to live as you should.”

“If I leave, I am going to leave with Archer.” Her hand pressed against the servant’s chest. “He never abandoned me and I won’t abandon him.”

“Archer is me-“

“But you don’t say we’ll leave with him.” She glanced towards the man’s desk, moving to stand back up. “Since you’re having enough energy to try to win me over, then maybe we should focus on Uruk. You have been talking about your kingdom every time I’ve seen you and I’ve taken up a lot of your time. They still need their king, don’t they?”

Those red eyes just gleamed, the man leaning back a bit as he took her words in.

“It is true, they do require my attentions.” The man brushed a hand through his hair as he slowly moved to stand. “Naturally, our time together has swallowed that time away from my people, but it is no matter. What I deem important is important. My word is law and my time is dictated by myself alone.”

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”

Gilgamesh would always do what he wanted in the end. Whether it was getting his way when it came to foods to getting his way about where to sleep for the night, there was nothing and no one that told the man what to do.

But now he was thinking about his people. It was a good opportunity to turn things away from that whole show of devotion comment.

Picking up a couple of the scrolls from a box, Hakuno moved over to the man’s side and unwrapped the first scroll. The Sumerian text was its usual collection of lines and dots, leaving the only help for translating as a picture of what could only be Ereshkigal. Or rather, most likely her with a very swollen pair of lips and feet.

“Why is it these drawings turn out so odd?”

“Hmm?” Caster looked over her shoulder, taking in the image. “It is the discussion of medical issues near the army in Uruk. It is to display that Ereshkigal’s claim is unsuccessful in seducing men to the underworld.”

“And the feet?”

He shrugged, “She has big feet.”

“She does not have big feet… I think.”

Did she have big feet? Honestly, she hadn’t paid any attention to her feet when they had been together the one time. There had been a lot going on and she had spent a lot of time worrying about whether she would need Caster to help her fight the two women.

“Hakuno?”

Caster’s voice pulled her from her thinking, her gaze moving to his.

“What’s wrong?”

“These texts are from last week.”

“Oh.” She looked at the room again. “Where are your documents for this week. We can try to get ahead on things as we go.”

“I have already gotten ahead on things.”

“But you said-“

“I said that my people still require my attentions. They still need their king, but they do not need me at present.” He plucked the scroll easily from her grasp, curling it back up before he placed it with the others in their original box. “I understand your interest in keeping Uruk functioning properly. I admire your dedication to protecting my people, but I have handled things for now. I allowed Archer to watch you yesterday evening for a time while I worked.”

“I see.”

“Does it bother you that I left you to work?”

“No, of course not. You need to help your people.” There was no reason to be upset with him about that. If anything, she was happy to hear he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. Out of all the people here that called themselves gods and kings and pharaohs, Caster was the only one that spoke of working with his people and doing what his title demanded. She hadn’t heard Archer say a thing about Uruk.

“Hakuno.” Caster tilted her chin up, leaning in close. “Do you understand how pleased I am with you?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“You are truly rare, both in caring for your teammates and caring about what’s important to others.” His hands moved to pull her back into his arms. “Invaluable, intriguing. You haven’t demanded anything of me in the way of jewels or bodily demands. You haven’t said a word against me. Even Archer cannot say that you have dismissed the presence of anyone in this place. All that you do, from the moment I laid eyes on you until now, is be exactly as you are. You’ve worried on our behalf as servants. You’ve worried about hurting Gudako’s emotions, as though they are something so fragile.”

“I don’t want to upset her.”

“And don’t you think that’s rather rare? Not everyone wants to be so considerate.”

“I just want to remain with Archer. He is my servant-“

“He is Gudako’s servant.” Caster moved a bit closer, lips claiming hers lightly. Teasing kisses, making her head swim and her body move towards his without thinking. “He belongs to Gudako, while I belong to you. You are my master, in name and in contract. While others may yearn for more, dream of holding you in their arms as I would like to, it is only I who has earned the title of servant with you.”

“Archer is my servant as well.” Meeting that stubborn gaze, she remained resolute on that point. Her hands gripped his vest as he remained close. “I won’t leave here or do anything without him. You’re my servant as well, but Archer and I have been through everything together. He sacrificed for me and I’ve sacrificed and lost a lot for him too. He’s saved my life too.”

“You also saved Ozymandias,” Caster pointed out. “Do you believe that rescuing someone equates to needing them to follow after you forever?”

“No.” Damn him.

Archer had- it was different for her and Archer than it was for her and Ozymandias. Ozymandias hadn’t been at risk of dying like she had. He had the opportunity of coming back if he had been struck down by the monsters in the training ground. She could summon him back or Gudako could summon him back. If she had died when the Moon Cell had been deleting her, then…

She would have been gone. Entirely and completely gone.

“If I question why my mind says to follow him, then I have to begin to question why you want to be near me as well.”

“Do you truly wonder why I want to be near you?”

“I don’t need to wonder. You are my servant.” Hakuno shook her head at him. “It doesn’t matter. I won’t leave you or neglect you. I just know what I want and I need to just focus on achieving my goal and leaving this place.”

He stole her hands away from his vest, holding them before his mouth as he looked at her. “You and I, we’re the same in the end, Hakuno. Both mages capable of more than we had initially expected. We are content with what we have, content with how others perceive us. We value what is important to us and we’ve learned the hard way about what arrogance can bring.”

“…Are you saying that you are not arrogant?”

Trying to imagine a Gilgamesh that wasn’t arrogant felt wrong.

“Oh, I am,” Gilgamesh grinned, leaning in closer. “I’m horribly arrogant, but I know I am. I take pride in that fact. Unlike your Archer, I can think through situations and separate my feelings from the matter. I can plan far greater than he could even dream of planning. This for example,” he nodded to the room around them.

“You just followed what Ozy and Nitocris were doing.”

“I moved to protect you. I wanted to be close to you to keep others away.”

But he hadn’t denied that he had done exactly what the other two had done because they had had a good idea.

“I only needed an hour of thinking to realize how I could create a contract with you successfully and enact that plan. I severed myself from Gudako and came to you.” He rested his cheek against her knuckles, his expression as gentle as she had ever seen it. “And you welcomed me to yourself. You offered and welcomed my marks to your skin.”

“How did you do it, Caster?”

“Hmm?”

“How did you sever your contract?”

Those eyes of his went dark, narrowing as he paused. “…You want me to tell you so that you can have Archer do the same.”

She tried to move her hands, but they were trapped.

“You would finally ask something so selfishly? Or perhaps you ask to allow Archer to continue to sway your opinions.”

“Caster, I want to help him.”

She wouldn’t say it was just her desire. Archer had asked him before to no avail. They both knew Archer was eager to return to her. She would find a way to do it no matter what it took. Caster’s method had been done in an hour. An hour that included getting to Gudako to deliver texts.

The man remained so still in front of her. She could almost see the negative reply forming in his mind as she stood there, waiting for him to say something.

But he smiled after a moment, looking up at her with those eyes of his back to that odd, adoring look he seemed fond of giving her.

The troublesome smile was back in place.

“If you will agree to try to summon a certain servant, then I will agree to tell you how to sever Archer’s contract. I will personally guide him through the process and help him secure the contract as he deems appropriate.”

“You… you want me to summon another servant? That would be three servants though.”

“Archer won’t hate it. If anything, he will find it brings him more pleasure than anything he has experienced thus far.” Caster’s smile was getting to her. She wasn’t sure what to think of those words.

“Summoning isn’t a perfect process, I could end up-“

“I will be your catalyst,” he told her. “You merely need to use the thought of me to get them. If you do, Archer won’t question their presence. I have seen it come to pass in my dreams.”

“You just thought of this. How can you say-“

“Dreams are not straight forward, Hakuno. The impressions that they cast, alongside the circumstances leading up to them, are what defines what they will tell me. The dreams warned me of you. They warned me of this servant too.”

“I don’t think Archer will-“

“He will love you for doing it.” Caster promised, pulling her closer. “And I want to personally show you what promise I hold as well. I want to see your face light up for me the way it did when you learned to use attack magic.”

Her face was heating up. They were getting back into dangerous territory.

“It was the most astounding look I have seen from you. Your whole face lit up for me, taking pleasure in me for who I am”

“Caster-“

“And then I saw this face break into a look that would have made the gods themselves pause in place. You showed me these dimples of yours. You showed me your soul and spirit to its fullest extent, filled and overflowing with happiness.”

The room was getting too warm. She needed to leave.

“I can’t summon another servant,” she warned him, taking a step back. Her arms were still held to the man. She needed to go. “I won’t do that to Archer.”

“Hakuno, listen to me for a moment.”

She wasn’t sure what would happen if she listened to that silver tongue a moment longer. He was too good at being charismatic. She needed to put up the walls she had originally done with Archer, before he had wormed his way through. Closing her eyes, she turned her body away from his.

“I need to leave,” she murmured. “I’m going to talk to Gudako and ask her what I can do to get my Archer back. He’s going to show me what pleasure is.”

“And when she says no,” Caster almost growled, “What will you do then?”

She stared over at him again, biting her lip as she tried to think properly. If it came to that… If she had to do something far more desperate… “You’re my servant.”

“I am,” he agreed, stroking her hands.

“…So is Archer. I made a promise to him. I won’t leave here without him. No matter what that means, I won’t lose him after we just found each other.”

“You would fight his own master for him?”

“I… I would.”

It was drawing a line in the sand, an impasse that left the man having to join her side or return to Gudako. He could too. He knew how to sever contracts. He had the choice of leaving and returning to the other woman. She wouldn’t blame him for going back to his original master. But thinking about how Archer had sounded when he had saved her, thinking of how he had held her those first few nights when she had awakened, it only made her decision that more resolute.

He had suffered with her gone. She wouldn’t leave him again.

Caster could leave her, but she was going to get him.

A laugh erupted from the king before her, his hold of her hands going to his lips. Looking at her from under thick lashes, the king just laughed and laughed. Shaking his head.

“What? What’s so funny?”

“You’re so defiant,” he mused. Pulling her in, he tossed her uselessly to the bed. Laying her out across the sheets, he loomed over her, holding her hands prisoner above her head. Her bangs were in the way. She could feel her hair a mess around her as she looked up at the king. Those lips of his pressed to hers, slow and meticulous.

She squirmed.

“I see what he sees in you, my master. I see what they all see in you. You would go to any length for whatever is important to you. You make yourself personally responsible for whatever happens. You accept responsibility. That is why you cherish Uruk. That is why you pay such attention to learning Sumerian and to how my people live their day to day functions. It’s not because you want to rule over a land or want to make as many people happy as possible.”

His forehead pressed to hers, eyes regarding her every feature as though memorizing her every inch.

“You want to help Uruk because Uruk is mine. You want to please me, your king and servant. There’s nothing else in it for you. At least, nothing that you would deem worthy of thinking about. You want me to be feel joy with what’s mine. Am I wrong?”

She remained silent, refusing to answer.

“I am right,” he confirmed for her, claiming her lips again. “I know that I am. I see it in your eyes, Hakuno. Even as you try to deny what your body wants to scream to me, I see it. That’s why you fed me before. That’s why you want me to rest and why you were so afraid of what Cu Caster had said about the grail.”

A hand was ghosting up her dress, tugging the stockings she had on down.

“Do you love me, I wonder…”

“C-Caster…”

“It is much too soon to define your feelings, I know.” He brushed her hair back with his other hand, fingers going between her legs as he moved the fabrics aside. “I sense the answer from you. I know what you feel, Hakuno. Even if you cannot. I see why Archer called you his everything now. To call you a queen isn’t enough.”

“Caster, I-“ Her breath caught as he stroked something. Like Archer before, he found a spot that broke apart her thinking. She needed to think without him touching her. She needed to leave!

“I cannot wait, Hakuno.” Caster pulled away, tossing his vest to the air before reaching for his pants. “I want this. I have waited to feel this strongly for so long. It has been- No. I won’t mention such sad things right now. I want to feel pleasure again, Hakuno. I know that you can bring that feeling back to me.”

Oh no.

She could see him lowering his pants. He was going to-

“I need to-“

“Allow me this, Hakuno.” Caster looked over at her as he lowered his pants. “I will be gentle for your first time. I will treat you as the queen I never took. You will want for nothing in my bed.”

She waited until the pants were to his knees before moving.

Leaping from the sheets, she yanked up her stocking and panties as she booked it for the door. Throwing it open, she darted around the servant that stood beyond the door. The goblet she had set in the hall was nearby. She darted for the room across from it, throwing the door open and leaping into the room.

She kicked the door shut, locking it immediately before the knocking began.

Another few locks were set into place.

And when the door was locked, she leaned against the thing, panting.

Her mind was revolving around his words, around how he had looked.

She didn’t love Gilgamesh. She didn’t know what that even meant. They were allies. They were intimate to an extent as servant and master. They had shared heated moments, but…

“Damn it.”

Why did her chest hurt? Why did her body feel so tired?

“Hello, foreign master.”

A low voice growled behind her, freezing her blood as she glanced behind her.

A beast stood behind her.

Chapter Text

Beast was the only word that could describe the thing standing behind her as Hakuno turned around. Surely no one would want a man such as this.

The tail behind him swished like a snake. The face, so much like Cu Caster’s own had red ink beneath his eyes and teeth like razor blades. When he didn’t speak, his mouth was ajar, set in a snarling look that made his nose look flared and his height seem far greater than it probably was.

She would have looked him over more closely, but her adrenaline was already flowing.

Everything about him breathed mana overflow.

“Who are you?”

The beast took a step towards her, his head tilting. Across his body, the spikes twitched. It’s hands- or rather- his claws curled and uncurled in preparation.

She took a step to the side, noting its attention to her and the door.

If she tried to open it, she would be dead. If she turned away, she would be dead.

The door on the other side of the room was open though, looking to lead out to another corridor. It was the one that kid Gil had taken before. She hadn’t tried leaving through it. If she moved carefully, she could make it out into the hallway and take the long way around to Caster’s or Ozymandias’ room.

The beast’s head tilted further, eyes locked with hers as he stepped forward again.

“Foreign master…”

“You’ve called me that already.”

Could she hit him with one of those mana bullets without passing out? She almost wished she had those damn training glasses on still. They would have been able to tell her how strong the beast was. She would be able to tell if an attack like the ones she had seen the servants in the training grounds use would work against the beast.

“Why are you here?” The monster asked her, taking a step forward again.

The mana was getting thicker, as though it were a fog or cloud. She couldn’t breathe through it. She almost didn’t dare to try.

A shot at the beast was useless, at least while she was this close.

“I-I am here to take Archer.”

“Archer?” The beast stepped towards her again, leaving her to take a couple steps towards the open door again. The thing’s voice was growing so soft. Things that dangerous never went soft. “What do you have with my master’s pet?”

Pet?

“Archer’s not a pet,” Hakuno hissed, stepping towards the doorway. “Archer does not belong to Gudako. He is not something to be called like a dog to someone’s side and played with like some toy. He’s a person with his own thoughts and feelings. Don’t you dare call him a pet!”

The beast laughed, the sound as inhuman as she could imagine. It made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. It made her body feel the chill in the room, even through her sweater. She could imagine this thing to be a grim reaper of sorts, like something that could bring true death to its enemies.

And she’d just chastised it.

“Do you think Gudako will simply surrender her pet to you? To something… unnatural.” It said the last word like he was tasting it, a long tongue running over his teeth. His clawed hands dug into the floor, creating holes in the rug.

“I need to talk to Gudako. I’ll make her see reason.”

“You’ll make her?” The thing laughed again, allowing her to take a couple steps back. She was near the door. Those eyes once again focused on her.

He was walking now, moving towards her a bit faster now.

“You think you can fight against my master, the one who can summon a thousand servants to her beck and call? The one who can fight against the ultimate evil, who can kill the very doctor that stitched her wounds and comforted her a thousand times more? You, little insect, cannot even fight again me.”

A lance landed next to her, sending her scrambling from the room.

And scrambling she went.

Another lance landed in the direction she was going to go, getting stuck in the window with the force of his energy.

That was a throw!

She didn’t want to get close to the beast when her energy was still recovering. She shouldn’t have gone to the training grounds. She needed to summon-

Another lance.

She darted behind a pillar, recognizing the hallway.

She needed to run.

She leaped into the room next to the dining hall, climbing into one of the pods before the door opened again.

A loud, rhythmic tapping came as the beast entered the room. She could hear something sliding across the floor as the beast entered the room, looking around carefully. The sound of something metallic breaking could be heard.

“Little pest,” the thing growled. “I know you’re in here. I sense it. Your mana drips from you like the useless human that you are. Come out and I will make your death quick. It will be faster than when you were with BB.”

How did he know of BB?!

Her heart was too loud. Her hand covering her mouth as she tried to focus her mana. She needed Caster. Forget her concerns about what the man had been about to do with her. Forget her reservations.

Somehow this thing knew about BB. It knew what had happened to-

“Do you remember her?” The thing was getting closer. “She remembers you. She remembers you all too well. Her voice still whispers. Do you know that? Gudako’s pet cannot kill a heroic spirit so easily… and she is one. The grail decided she was. Stronger now than before.”

She could see his shadow at the edge of the pod she was in, where there was a crack in the covering. She prayed the thing was too dirty to show her to the beast.

“Soon she’ll be summoned, another servant in Chaldea. Do you know what she wants to wish for? It’ll be all too familiar. Death to her enemies… and the eternal suffering of the one who defeated her.”

Hakuno waited, seeing the shadow growing closer.

She had one shot at this. She needed to go through the other door in the room.

Slamming against the pod door, she burst forth as he grew close enough, watching the thing slam against his body. She didn’t look back to see how well it had worked, instead focusing her mana in her legs.

Every inch of power she had, she put into running, smashing against the other door, hitting the hallway wall as she barreled out of the room. She let her legs carry her as far as they could. She didn’t look back. She didn’t think. She just felt for now.

Going and going.

Everything in her was aching. Her body felt like it was dying, but she had to keep going. She had to warn the others about what the thing had said. BB was still alive. BB was coming.

She stopped at the middle of a hallway, her eyes widening at the sight of the beast on the other end.

It had taken a shortcut.

She grabbed the door closest to her and rushed into the room. Going deep enough into the room, she felt another door, going through without hesitation.

Darkness embraced her. She went behind the door and focused on running her hands across the floor.

Speaking would let the thing know she was in the room. If it tried the other hall, maybe she would lose it.

Still, she needed her servant with her. If she was going to survive, she needed a better offense than the occasional mana bullet. It drained her. She should have had Caster teach her more.

A circle in the center, text along the sides. She wrote in Sumerian, since that was the language of her servant. More symbols. She wasn’t focused on the summoning of her servant to her side, rather to listening for the sound of the beast berserker coming back.

She shut her eyes, trying to think through the spell.

“Do you need me?” a voice whispered.

Hakuno opened her eyes, pressing against the wall a moment.

Silence greeted her. She couldn’t tell if the berserker was in the other room or not. If it was close, it would hear her try to leave. She needed to stay hidden for now.

Her hands pressed against the circle again, eyes closing.

“Hakuno,” BB’s voice whispered.

She paused, blood running cold. The circle was already lighting up, glowing as sparks danced around her. She could see a great collection of yellow around her.

Something- unnatural was trying to climb through the circle. It was reaching for her with its mana, trying to get to her as she heard the sound of claws in the other room.

The Berserker had heard her start the summoning.

“It’s okay,” a voice murmured. “I won’t let anything happen to you. It’ll be like old times, master. Just like before, without you getting sick. You won’t forget anything ever again. I won’t let them put you asleep.”

Something was rising from the circle, lifeless eyes gazing into hers.

The door flew open, making her scream as she fell back. Something green flashed before her eyes, lunging for the Berserker. A trail of feathers came from behind the thing before the door was thrown shut.

Hakuno ran for the door, trying the lock before she found it locked.

“HEY!”

The room lit up, electricity sparking amongst the top of the room.

She was in a rayshift chamber. If she-

Pain wracked through her body as she tried to yell. Blood pouring out of her mouth before she could say anything. It hurt to breathe. Was Caster fighting? What was happening? Why was all her mana being drained? Had she summoned something too powerful?

Her knees hit the floor, her body hitting the floor of the chamber.

Everything hurt. She couldn’t handle the mana coming out of her.

The room went to white.



“Does it hurt greatly?”

“It’s fine,” she heard herself saying to the voice.

“Ah, as bad a liar as ever. You know, if we were around my only other friend, he would get really mad at you. He hated when people lied, especially to themselves.”

“Tell me again about him.”

The voice hummed a moment. “My friend? Let’s see. I have told you so much. It’s like I want you to see him yourself. If only he could be a heroic spirit like me.”

“No one can be a heroic spirit like you…” The name was lost, but she could sense that it was important.

“Well, you said you have to go in for treatment again. Do you think they’ll cure it this time?”

“I’m sure they will. After all, I need to get better for you. You and I are going to travel the world, aren’t we? I can’t travel with you if I wake up and forget you.” Her voice was laughing a little. “I’m going to make you help me fight beasts in the forests and go through temples together.”

“And spend time with temple maidens, right?”

“You and your temple maidens… I swear you just miss having someone cuddling you every second of every day.”

“Why would I miss that when you cuddle me every day?”

She heard herself laughing again.

“You were going to teach me to be better about honesty…” Again, she couldn’t hear the name, “so let’s start again. I don’t want to go to the clinic again and find out more bad news. What if it’s too late for me to get treatment and I forget you? What if I forget all your stories?”

“I’ll always be there for you… and if I can’t, there’s a hero stronger than me that will come to you. You’re so powerful, Hakuno.”

Her heart was aching. Everything was beyond any pain she had ever felt. Hakuno tried to scream, to let some of the pain out, but nothing was coming out. She was trapped in hell.

“You’re important to me,” the voice told her.

"I know. You tell me that every day. You and my other friend are so alike. I cannot begin to tell you how lucky I am to have found you. I will see you through this hard time. I'll always be right here. I promise to never leave you."

"I'm holding you to that."

“I promise you, no matter what happens, I will always make sure you’re safe.”

“Never let me forget you, Enk…”

The voices and pain faded to black. Whatever those voices were, they were forgotten immediately.

Hakuno opened her eyes to the overwhelming humidity, her mind returning to the horrors of before as she glanced up towards bright red eyes.

Chapter Text

A week.

With each second passing like a year. With every hour ticking away a part of his eternity. How soon the week had come to pass when he remained in front of the door to his other self’s chambers, facing an impenetrable doorway.

How many times had he stroked his hand along the metal door? How many times had he tried to speak to the woman on the other side of the door, bidding her to open it?

For her, he had stopped his quarreling with Nitocris and Ozymandias.

For her, he had swallowed his pride, speaking so gently do the door.

He pleaded.

Gods, had he pleaded, going to Ereshkigal herself to plead for her help. He had closed his eyes, pleading with his own mother to have the woman open the door.

But soon after she had left him, he had felt the loss of her like a limb. He couldn’t sense her contract, fearing the worst.

“Hakuno…” He pressed his face to the door. “Hakuno, please… Please don’t do this to me. Archer is waiting for you.” He pressed his hand to the door again, shutting his eyes. “He’s waiting for you to open the door. I’m going to help him. Just… Just open the door.”

Did she sense his hesitations in letting her go to his other self? Did she want him to let go of his contract with her?

“Oi. Gilly,” a hand pressed to his shoulder, pulling him away from his misery. “You need to eat.”

“I’m not hungry.”

Cu Caster moved to his knees, setting the tray onto his lap. “Yeah? Well, I don’t give a shit. Little Haku’s gonna come out eventually. She’s gonna get hungry.” He raised his voice, “and I’ve got all these sweets ready to go. I know Ozymandias is having Emiya cook a bunch of honeyed bread for when Archer returns!”

“It’s no use.” Gil looked towards the door, hating all doors in that moment. “She won’t respond to anyone.”

“Yeah, well,” Cu shook his head, standing back up. “I’m gonna switch out with Nitocris for now. Ozymandias is on his way back from visiting with Jack and Nursery.

Right, the door lock removal.

“Useless, faithless creatures.” Ozymandias strolled his way as Cu waved at him and went for the other door to Gilgamesh’s room. The pharaoh himself stormed passed the caster, stopping at the door to begin pounding.

“Pharaoh.”

“HAKUNO! OPEN THE DOOR!”

“She won’t answer,” Gilgamesh told him simply.

“There’s no other way to enter this room. Jack and Nursery can’t find Cu Berserker. Whatever he did to the door, it’s a mystery. I should have known when Archer was getting territorial that he would do something such as this.”

Caster stared out towards the swirling snow outside, his stomach churning.

“HAKUNO!” Ozymandias continued to hit the door as Nitocris came.

“Pharaoh! Don’t lose your patience!” Her hands wrapped around his, pulling them back as she shook her head. “It’s not worth making her more upset. You care for her. She knows this. What we need to do is remain faithful and patient!”

“She is wasting away in there!” Ozymandias kicked the door.

“My pharaoh,” Nitocris hugged him, holding the angered king to herself. “I know it is hard. It is hard for us all. You need to remain patient.”

“She has-“

“Patience wins a woman’s heart,” the woman told him. “Women are wooed with honey and sweetened words. They look at behavior, at what their hearts tell them. Even the least romantic woman can be won over through actions and sincerity. You are the epitome of what she could hope for. Remember that. Nefertari has never been able to resist you for long. She loves you. Please have patience for a while longer.”

The man pulled away from his caster, looking towards the door once again before his bravado crumbled. The pharaoh sank to his knees, settling beside Gilgamesh.

“I am not a patient god,” he told them simply. “I wish for her to be back in my arms. I want to hold her and let the world come to pass. Thinking of being alone again wounds me, Nitocris.”

The woman’s jackal ears lowered as she nodded. “Perhaps… Perhaps she will come out soon.” The woman looked to him. “Gilgamesh, do you sense her power?”

“I barely feel a thing.” Of course, the wine he had Cu sneaking to him was numbing the pain of having her run from him. Over and over, he could see Hakuno rejecting him. He could see her bolting from his bed, leaving him to stand there so she could return to his Archer self.

She never wanted him.

She had never wanted him.

Archer had been her everything.

Archer had been her world.

It was unbearable to consider, thinking back to when he had met his other self. Standing proudly over his child self, a foot pressed against the child’s back, he had been laughing when Caster had found him. And rather than being intelligent, the man had simply looked at him and yawned. He had insulted him and spat in his direction.

Yet, Hakuno saw something in him.

She saw something and she loved it. There was no denying what the woman felt. She returned to his bed night after night. She wore his clothing, leaned into his attentions. When he had taunted him in front of her, her body had leaned into his touch. She had welcomed anything he would do for her.

“Hakuno,” Ozymandias pressed a hand to the door. “Please come out and sit with me. I want to share the sphynxes with you. I want to be able to spend more time with you. We can do whatever you wish, you merely need to open the door.”

It wouldn’t work.

It hadn’t worked all week.

Nitocris settled at their side, holding the pharaoh close to her side and pulling him in as well. Between the two of them, the woman merely remained silent. Her embrace was comforting, but useless.

She wasn’t what they wanted. She was merely filling a role.

If only Enkidu were here, Caster thought to himself, looking over his head at the door.

Enkidu would have known what to say. They would have clawed the door apart, pulling her into their arms and simply knowing what to say. The man’s deceptive smile would have won her over. Their patient eyes and natural sense of wordless understanding would have worked them through whatever this was.

Closing his eyes, Gil waited.

The world around them passed, as silent and still as it had been for days.

Uselessly silent. Uselessly still.

The pharaohs at his side slept as well, all three of them guarding the gates to paradise. Paradise: with bright brown eyes and long, brown hair. Paradise, whose attention was addictive and unlike anything he had experienced before.

Just open the door, Hakuno.

His body slumped a bit more against Nitocris. The food was once again forgotten. He wouldn’t eat until Hakuno was back at his side.

“…This is pathetic.”

Caster opened his eyes, frowning at the gold bars in front of himself.

No, not gold bars, thigh plates. His eyes drifted upwards, towards the chest plate and the crossed arms, with fingers drumming along his arms as he looked down at him in his full armor. Those red eyes scanned over them all, watching impatiently.

“What is this?”

The man’s voice was filled with pure poison, the very sound driving the start of a headache to mind as Caster glared up at him..

Nitocris was waking up now, hearing the king’s voice.

“Hnnng… King Gilgamesh?”

“I don’t care for repeating myself when I have business to attend to. What are you doing in front of my chambers, mongrels?”

“Hakuno will not come out,” Nitocris murmured. “We kings are here to watch over her until she decides to open the door.”

“And why is she keeping the door shut?”

Demanding and venomous sounding as ever. The man’s voice cut through any chit-chat, leaving there to be nothing to do but answer him.

“We were arguing over her,” Caster told him, sitting up slightly. “We went too far and she decided to barricade herself in your chambers. She hasn’t responded to any of us.”

Archer snorted, a smirk coming to his features as he glanced towards the door. “Of course. It is pleasing to hear, I suppose. My master has always been remarkably loyal, surpassing even the chivalrous lancer from before. Truly, it is only a wonder to me that she humored you all to begin with.”

The man’s hand pressed against the door, his mana passing through the door a moment before the door’s locks swung out of place loudly. The metal door that had been impossible to pass opened, allowing them to finally have passage into his chambers.

Ozymandias fell back, awakening in a daze as Nitocris and himself sprinted into the room.

Nothing.

The door had opened to a room left untouched. The bed was carefully tucked and clean. The floors and tables were tidy and orderly, leaving no sign of life from the moment that Archer left the chambers.

“Hakuno.” Archer stepped into the room behind them, looking around with a scowl in place now. “Hakuno, where are you hiding?”

Silence responded to him, the room remaining still.

“Hakuno!”

“She isn’t here,” Nitocris looked around, her eyes wide as she looked towards the pharaoh. “Why is she not in here? We saw her enter.”

“We never saw her leave.” Ozymandias sucked in a breath. “Nitocris, she is lost in Chaldea.”

“We need to summon the medjed and set loose the sphynxes. They should be able to find her!” Nitocris was already running out the door, her staff coming into fruition as she ran. Portals opened on either side of her as she looked back towards the pharaoh. “We need to find her before something happens!”

“I will summon the sphynxes! Begin near the dining hall! She will need food!”

Caster opened the other exit, watching Cu Caster fall back into the room. He tired eyes drifted up to the two golden kings as he yawned.

“Ah- hey, Gilly. Golden Ass.” He nodded at them both sleepily. “We good now?”

“We are not good now, you simple minded gnat, my master is missing.” Archer leaned over him, his foot pressing to the caster’s cheek. “And you sleep against my door as uselessly as the others. Do you have any hunting prowess or did you leave even that only useful trait of your duplicates with them?”

“Peace, Archer,” Caster pushed the man back, pulling Cu Caster to his feet.

“She’s not here? How is she not here?” Cu looked around the room, frowning in his half-asleep state.

“She must have left here before we had the chance to cover the doors.” Caster motioned towards the door. “Can you summon Medea and the others? I know that they are useful at sensing the presence of unfamiliar mana.”

“And they could not sense her thus far,” Archer snarled.

He cut the man a look, turning back to Cu Caster. “Summon my younger self as well. I must speak to him about this.”

“Yeah, fine.” Cu yawned again, nodding towards Archer. “Do us all a favor and kill ol’ Golden Ass while you’re waiting for your younger self. Better now before he has a master again.”

Gil paused, watching the man turn away.

Archer was without a contract?

How had the caster sensed that when he himself couldn’t sense it?

Glancing back at the king, Gilgamesh pushed the trickles of mana in himself. He could still feel Hakuno’s power, but it wasn’t coming to him like before.

The Archer merely stood resolute, glaring at him as he noted the weaker power coming from the man. It was all gone: the ties to Gudako, the unrivaled strength, everything.

The man’s face darkened, his fists curling a moment before he was spinning around, overturning the mattress and yanking aside the sheets.

“Search the room,” Archer hissed.

“Archer,” Caster took a step towards him, reaching out a hand only to pause at the last minute. The man’s eyes were once more on him, stopping his comfort.

“My master is missing and you are standing there uselessly. Either assist me or leave me. I have no qualms with you dying. Simplifies my problems.”

He was…

Caster moved to stand up, looking around the room more carefully. It didn’t help that the man was already ruining the scene. Yet there wasn’t any paperwork or things out. His hands went to the book he had given the woman, flipping through the pages before he glanced over at Archer.

“Since we are not going to discuss how much time you have, then fine. I will find my master.”

“You don’t get the right to call her your master,” Archer snarled. “You lost the right the moment you lost my master. And tell your conniving collection of casters to find Cu Chulainn Berserker. That man will find my woman. He can sniff out innocence.”

“Cu Alter? You want to bring him into this?” Caster could feel the disgust showing on his face. “The man is nothing more than a beast of a thing.”

“He’s strong. A hard idea for a caster to imagine.”

“Waver will find her. If not him, then Merlin-“

“Yes, get the mage of flowers on this.” Archer was digging through his belongings now, tossing things haphazardly as he hunted for some kind of indication of the other’s whereabouts. “When Hakuno comes to us as a man, confused and out of her mind, what is your plan then?”

He couldn’t defend that one.

“Caster?” His child self was looking around the doorframe, glancing at them both in a mixture of confusion and interest.

No doubt trying to sense Hakuno.

“She isn’t here,” Archer sneered. “Caster has made Hakuno disappear, just like he did with our other friend.”

“Don’t you dare blame them on me!” Caster turned around, returning the other’s surly mood. “Don’t you dare try to make me take the blame for their death! We both know that was Ishtar’s doing. They were my only friend too!”

“Words,” Archer’s smile was as condescending as ever. “How many pretty words have you purred at my woman, trying to make her bend to your will as she does to mine? You knew where she was for what? An hour? Two?”

“Come with me, little one,” Caster beckoned to his child self, turning away from Archer. He had to. He wasn’t going to spend a moment longer speaking to someone looking for a fight.

“HAKUNO!”

The man’s roar could be heard as he tugged his child self down the hall.

“She’s missing? Do you think she is somewhere here in Chaldea?” The boy looked up at him, eyes reflecting something he had started to see in Archer’s eyes.

Fear.

“My young self,” Caster moved to his knees, stopping the boy. “I know that you have been connecting with Abagail and the others of shorter stature in this place.” He kept his eyes trained on the boy’s, keeping their height at equal level. “I also know that you have been looking into how to reign over Gudako and steal Mash away.”

“I was, but when Hakuno appeared, I -“

“I don’t care.” Caster moved his hands to the boy’s shoulders, holding him lightly. “We need to find Hakuno before she runs into Ivan, the Hassans, or Sparticus.” The brutes and assassins would enjoy testing the limits of Hakuno’s abilities. After finishing with her training with them, she would have been tired. She would have been so weak.

“I can find her,” Gil told him.

“I know. I have watched you carefully,” Caster rubbed the kid’s shoulders. “I need you to find Hakuno as quickly as possible. Send your companions to tell the casters of this place to do the same.”

“What about Archer?”

Caster glanced towards the room they had come from.

It would suit their needs for Archer to be left out of it. He could simply fade away before they found Hakuno. Still, doing that would mean that Hakuno would possibly find out. She could abandon them in lieu of trying to summon the Archer to her side.

She would succeed as well, since the man was loath to be without her.

“Stay away from him. He’ll only insult you.”

“He always insults-“

“It is like when he lost our friend, little one.” Caster turned the boy, pushing him down the hall. “Hurry with the hunt. Ozymandias and Nitocris are intent on finding her and stealing her away from us before we can get her.”

“I’ll find her!”

He had no doubt the boy would. His young self could find anything in this place. His tunnel vision removed all obstacles, focusing only on what was necessary.

Caster only spent a moment watching his young self run, calling to his collection of tricky liars. The boy indoctrinated them, pouting and charming his way with the women.

“You are standing there daydreaming,” a voice growled.

“Hmm?” Caster looked over his shoulder, seeing the other in his casual attire. “…How long do you have?”

“Planning to wait me out?”

Immature as could be…

Caster turned, facing the distraught archer head on.

“Hakuno holds you in high regards. Losing you means I lose myself. She will never accept me without you. I know this now. I know better than to try to demonize you to her.”

“…” The man eased down, his eyes drifting to the hallway. “…I thought I had seen En- them… When I was coming to my room.”

“You thought you saw our friend?”

The archer laughed, a hollow sound as he brushed his hair back. “Does it amuse you? I’m dreaming while awake, seeing our own failure foretold with no ability to change anything. It's just like before.”

“We are all hunting for her,” Caster argued. “We will find her.”

“I will not lose what’s ours, Caster… not again.”

Ours.

The man had said ours. Had he meant it?

The man could claim Hakuno for himself without argument, stealing her away and refusing to allow her to lend support. He could hoard her away when he found her. She only wanted him. The man merely had to implore her to release him and she would let Caster go.

“Caster.”

“You said ours.”

The man sighed again, his scowl slowly returning as he looked around the hallway again. His eyes drifted over his person. “Despite your… deficiencies… Our Hakuno wants us both. I will not allow her to take another servant aside from us, but she is fragile minded. Her lack of understanding about pleasure and simple things will lead her to ruin. We must find her before the others.”

“We will find her.”

“I’m going to hunt for her near Gudako’s chambers.”

“Are you sure?”

Archer turned, shaking his head. “I need to steal a grail. If I am to survive until we find her, I need mana.”

“Don’t get caught.”

The man looked over his shoulder, smirking. “Find our woman, Caster.”

Chapter Text

Opening her eyes, her body ached. Every inch of her body was screaming at her, pulling at her as she clambered to her feet. There was no time to indulge in whining though.

He was after her.

Blue hair. Red eyes.

Danger.

Her mind had immediately reached the conclusion, remembering Cu Caster’s talk about not having a lance of his own. She launched a spurt of magic at the man and took off running, making it to the forests not far from where she had been thrown. Her hands hit at the trees around her, shoving the branches out of her way as she went. Her skin itched and parted as the branches hit her. She could feel the cuts along her skin as her mana felt like barely a trickle.

The world around her was different than the training grounds, more alive.

The beast must have transported her to another world.

If only she had Caster. She shouldn’t have left him.

Even if it had cost her something she had imagined giving to Archer.

“OI!” The monster was giving chase after her, calling out into the woods. It made her dive behind a bush, covering her mouth.

Her heart was pounding in her chest, ears overly attentive to the little sounds around her. The leaves in the bush she was hiding in wouldn’t stop moving. Was it the wind? Would he notice?

The light grey colored outfit was working against her. She covered as much of herself as she could with her hair and mud in an attempt to distort the vibrant hue. Damn sweaters being so light colored. It was so hot here. She needed to change into something less conspicuous as soon as possible.

Sweat was moving down her back as she heard the man call out again. The taste of copper was strong in her mouth. Yet she didn’t feel like she was dying here. Whatever tension she had begun to feel in Chaldea- it was not here. She felt free of all ties here. It was like she was free from providing mana to her servants. Yet that didn’t make her feel safe in the least.

She needed to remain still, waiting.

Many predators waited for their prey to have a false sense of security. She had seen monsters in the labyrinth do so before. Gilgamesh had protected her from them, working with her to improve her aim when she needed to use her magic.

She was impressed that her magic had even worked.

Something moved at the corner of her eye, drawing her attention to a pig-like creature. It was enormous, its horns brushing against a tree, shaving the bark off as it snorted and stomped. The beast roamed before her, its nose pressed to the ground now as she waited. As the head turned, she sucked in a breath. It was close… It was too close. Did it see her?

Its beady eyes drifted towards the bush, making her blood run cold.

Suddenly, a hand was over her mouth, an arm wrapping around her waist as she was yanked out of the way. Behind a nearby tree, she felt her body pressed against the bark. Her chest pressed against the bark as she felt a mouth near her ear.

“Don’t move if you want to live.”

It was the man from before. The bastard that had tossed her here.

“Don’t say a word,” he demanded.

The red lance from before was spun quickly, quietly. Its red color looked like the blood she had coughed up. Its sharp edge flickered in the sunlight. She felt the man press against her more, pulling his arm back a moment before he threw it. The sound of it ripping through the air could be heard before a loud squeal rang out. A large thump followed.

“Damn,” the man pulled away, turning her around without releasing her. “You’re a damn pain, ya know that?”

“You…”

The man grinned, shifting on his feet. “You’re welcome.”

“You asshole!” Her knee rose up to the occasion, landing squarely between his legs. She followed the assault with her fists, smacking him repeatedly. “Where the hell am I? Take me back to Chaldea this instant!”

“OI! OI!” Lancer wheezed, rolling onto his back and clutching himself protectively. “OI! STOP! IT WASN’T ME!”

“I SAW YOU!”

“Okay. It was me, but it wasn’t me!” The man rolled away, hiding away his crotch from another aimed attack. “STOP! DAMN IT!”

“What do you mean, it was but wasn’t you?!” She aimed her hand towards his face, ready to sacrifice another burst of mana at him if he didn’t reply.

“You were tossed here by Berserker,” the man told her. “I don’t know shit about him and his bullshit. I just heard fighting and hoped Gudako would be nearby. Figured she’d help me out and then some shit and my ‘Serker self shoved me in here and I found you unconscious.”

“Why did they send you here?”

“I don’t know,” he growled, sitting up as Hakuno slowed her attack. “Geez, woman. Violent and questioning as hell. The fuck should I know what that lunatic is thinking.”

“How do we get back?”

“Normally, we would call, but we don’t have any communication, do we?” His attitude was not helping. She was tempted to go with Archer’s normal attitude, beat some sense into him.

She didn’t have the energy for that though.

She sighed.

“We don’t.”

Lancer looked around, huffing. “And we’re in some damn singularity. Looks like Babylonia.”

“We could go to the palace then,” Hakuno offered. “Gilgamesh-“

“Is in Chaldea…” Lancer paused, “but then again, that workaholic might be looking into things. He could find us there and come to pick us up… maybe.”

Hakuno sighed, letting herself calm down. If what he was saying was true, and it felt that way, then she needed him. He could have killed her earlier. Instead he had killed their enemy. The beast…

“My name is Hakuno Kishinami,” she told him.

“Cu Chulainn. You can call me Lancer, I guess. I heard about you a little from my Caster self. Idiot never shuts up when he’s got somethin’ to say. I guess you probably know that though. All ‘I found a master and she ain’t likin’ you’ bullshit. As though you’d sniff me out like some horny cat.” The man gingerly rubbed at his crotch. “I’d prefer if you’d stay a couple feet away from now on. Fuckin’ hell, between the damn magic blast you threw my way and the damn pounding you tried to give… Damn.”

“I thought you were Berserker.”

“Nah, I never caught on to that fact,” he drawled, leaning back a little. “Shit, it hurts.”

“Don’t you have some way of contacting your master?” Hakuno asked, frowning.

“Master? You think I get to keep a steady master?” Cu laughed. “Medea thinks it’s fuckin’ funny to remove my contract with my master all the damn time. Annoying shit she is, I’m lucky I can last a few days without a contract.”

“Medea?”

“A caster. I swear they all work together at times. I’m assumin’ she’s how you ended up with Gil Caster.”

“I have no idea,” Hakuno confessed. It was hard to know at this point. Medea was a name she had heard before. If the woman was messing with contracts, it was probably who Caster Gilgamesh had made an agreement with. Or maybe just pissed off. Atalanta had mentioned she didn’t talk to Medea anymore. Maybe it was because the woman enjoyed messing with contracts between master and servants.

Speaking of which, “Caster! I order you to come with a command spell!”

Silence greeted her.

Cu Chulainn raised a brow. “You didn’t try that sooner?”

“I figured I would get to a safe space and summon him.” She hadn’t thought of it until he had mentioned he lacked a master.

“Yeah, well…” Lancer stood up, nodding as he adjusted his suit a bit. “It doesn’t look like you were successful. Probably because we’re already in the singularity. Can’t just summon servant after servant. That’s why Gudako chooses her servants carefully when she is planning to fight. If she needs to summon while in a singularity, she contracts Chaldea to send them in. Saves magic and the contracts don’t always work through time and space. She also does it so she doesn’t have to work on having so much damn mana all the time. Servants can’t connect to masters here as much.”

She nodded, looking around. “We should get your lance back.”

“We should.” Lancer moved forward, crossing the open area to the corpse of the dead beast. “Always enjoy killing boar, to be honest. Usually don’t see them here though.”

“You’re sure?”

“I came here with Ozymandias and Gudako. Never saw a damn boar.”

That was bad news then. It meant something had changed. Caster Gil would want to know about this later.

She needed to get in contact with Chaldea somehow. If the others were in a singularity, there was no telling when Archer would notice she was gone. Caster hadn’t really left her alone though. Surely he would notice quickly that she had vanished. He would hunt her down while Archer was absent. Between him, Ozymandias, and Nitocris; they would find her.

Nitocris had that ability with portals. She could maybe make a portal here. Or maybe Cu Caster could help them shift here to help her get back.

“Oi,” a hand waved in front of her face. “Woman. You there?”

“Hmm?”

“You’re sweating badly.”

“It’s really hot here,” Hakuno replied distractedly.

“Yeah, that must be it.” His voice was nothing less than sarcastic with that quip. The man looked around a moment before motioning her towards a certain direction. “We should head to the city. We can get clothes and figure things out when we get there.”

“Right. We can head to the palace and get Gilgamesh to-“

Cu held up a hand. “I see a handful of problems and you’re looking like you’re gonna pass out. Let’s save the plannin’ for when you can actually focus on something other than panicking and being overheated.”

“I’m not panicking. I’m thinking.”

“In a panicked state. Probably from wanting to fight me.” A grin was flashed her way before, “but come on. We can’t stay here. There’ll be other enemies in the area and I rather like being a servant fighting for humanity, ya know.”

“Oh… Right. You won’t be able to last long without a master.”

“I won’t,” he agreed.

She wasn’t going to last long without a servant here.

With the heat beating down on her and how little mana she felt in her person, she didn’t have a lot of time. Along with that, Berserker could come after her at any minute. Plus there was the thing she had summoned. Probably one of Gudako’s servants that had been near Caster Gil. Something must have gone wrong with her summons.

“Form a contract with me.”

He had maybe taken one step. Possibly two. The moment the words left her lips, he froze in place, spinning around to stare at her. His eyes were large, mouth gaping.

“Let’s form a contract,” she repeated.

“You have Gil Caster.”

Hakuno motioned around them, “Do you see him here with us? Because if you do, then you may need to go get your head checked.”

He didn’t find that funny? Maybe it was just her.

“I’m a master,” she went on to say, motioning between them. “You’re a servant. I can’t even breathe right now because of this heat and you’re only going to last so long without a mage. If you know how contracts can be ended, then that’s great. Let’s form a temporary bond and get the hell out of this place.”

“You’d do it just like that?”

The sun was beating down through the trees. If they were going to move, they needed to move before she decided to just strip down and run for the city naked. While amusing in a third person sense, she really didn’t want to be arrested for nudity.

Archer would never let her forget her moment of nudity if she did it anyway.

More than likely, he’d invite her to enjoy running around nude for fun.

“…Shit, you’re serious.” Cu grinned a little, laughing. “Alright, fine. Let’s do it. It’s been a while since I’ve spent time with someone who has spent a great deal of time with that golden asshole. Just don’t command me to kill myself.”

She just started the contracting, reciting the words and tracing the circle in the ground before Cu grabbed her hand and pulled her close.

“Cute, but let’s do it this way.”

His mouth slammed against hers, the contracting words dying on her lips as she felt her face heat up. She could feel her hand begin to burn, command spells forming brightly once again as Lancer pulled back.

The mana felt like that much less now. Her body felt lighter.

“We could have-“

“Yeah, we could’ve, but this was far more entertaining.”

“We need to get moving.” Hakuno turned the direction he had pointed towards a moment ago, walking ahead as the lancer loped at her side. The grin on his face was wide, as mischievous as one could be as he walked alongside her.

“You know, it’s funny. You didn’t do that with that Nitocris and that noisy rider back in Chaldea.”

“It’s hot, Cu Chulainn.”

The man leaned closer, invading her space as they moved further through the woods. “I’m just sayin’. I’m feelin’ a little honored here. You got preferences or something?”

“It’s hot. I got trapped here by your Berserker self. My magic is limited and my circuits don’t work all the time. You’re a servant with talent who showed he can defend us if he needs to. It makes sense to make a contract with you for right now.”

“What if I don’t want to end the contract when we get back?”

Hakuno just sighed, trying to focus as the ground revolved a little before her eyes. “Can we please get to the city? What place is close to here?”

She really didn’t want to bother to tell him what she’d make him do if he became stubborn. She had one servant and wanted Archer. She was damn tired of these other servants pushing their interests onto her. She’d make lancer visit Medea and piss her off if she needed to.

The lancer rushed forward, taking little time at all to leap up the length to the first branch. He moved swiftly, taking one branch over after another, until she couldn’t see him anymore. She leaned against the tree, sighing a little as she wiped at her forehead.

There was too much heat. Nudity was the only option. She yanked the sweater off, wiping at the sweat only to feel the heat oppressing her more. The leggings went next, although she kept the boots on. They were going to be important. She didn’t know a thing about the wildlife in this forest. Even as she thought that, another part of her denied the chance to move. It was too damn hot.

Her skin felt like it was melting. It felt like her throat had never seen water before. How long had it been since she had been cold?

“Oi!” A voice drifted in front of her. “What are you doin’?”

“It’s really hot,” she breathed, not really seeing him. There was a blur of blue in front of her.

A pair of arms wrapped around her waist. “Damn, woman. You should’a told me that you were suffering from the heat like this. Let me get you to the city. It looks like it ain’t far. We’ll get you something cooler to wear.”

“It’s fine. Just take the rest off,” she murmured, closing her eyes.

“Any other time, woman.” The voice replied. “Any other time you wanna say that to me, you just go right on ahead. We’ll have a great time.”

Hakuno nodded, leaning against the man’s chest and letting the heat consume her.

Chapter Text

Opening her eyes, the first thing she could see were glass bottles. Dozens of glass bottles. They were tied to the ceiling, casting the walls in a variety of colors and hues. Bright yellows and greens, blues and reds; they clashed against one another, creating a kaleidoscope of vibrancy in the otherwise bland walls. The more she looked, the more she could see.

Tapestries were hanging over one side of the space, blocking out the light from one side of the room. Another cloth blocked the doorway from view, but she could see a sliver of something on the other side. Perhaps a stovetop? A heater?

Hakuno moved to sit up, looking down at the white gauzy material she had on and frowning.

“Customary attire,” a voice told her. She looked up, watching the man enter the space. His jumpsuit like attire was gone, replaced with a similar white robe that only covered half his body. A set of red tattoos similar to Gilgamesh’s own were across his torso and the part of his lower arm that was visible above the gold band on his arm.

With his hair loose and one side covered, Hakuno found herself chuckling a little.

“Huh? What’s so funny?”

“Do you need help getting dressed?” Hakuno asked back.

The man rolled his eyes, arms crossing. “It’s customary to wear it like this. Considering how much I had to bribe the damn couple that lived here to ignore the fact that you were basically naked and I was running around in weird clothes, we’re lucky they were so willing to lend us the place while they travel with a caravan.”

“Sorry. I just- It looks funny.”

“Tell your damn other servant that. These clothes are his style.” The lancer held up his arms. “I prefer being covered and not looking like some kind of compensator. This amount of glinting nonsense and loose clothing is asking for trouble.”

“Sorry. Sorry,” she waved off his whining, moving to stand up. “It is a lot cooler in here.”

Cu grinned, “It is, but don’t let it fool ya. Once you step outside, it’s a damn sauna. These clothes are probably the best that you’ll get in terms of keeping your internal temp down, but you slept a whole day away, kid.”

“We should head to the pal-“

“Food first.”

Hakuno shook her head. “We can eat when we’re-“

“Food. First.” Cu crossed his arms again, leaning forward. “You lost a lot of fluids, woman. Unless you’ve got some special ability for recovery, then you better come with me and enjoy something to eat and drink.”

“…Fine. If only to get our plan straight.”

She didn’t bother to wait for him, ducking around him and moving under the cloth posing as a door. The other room was very sparse as well. A couple rugs nearby. A small table took up part of the space where the stovetop was opposing. There were a couple different storage bins and a trunk in the space. Other than that, there wasn’t much space or anything.

As much as she wanted to simply run for the palace, she had a feeling her new servant wouldn't appreciate it. Along with that, she was still tired. Going through the rayshift to places was draining. Even without feeling her servant in Chaldea, having Cu was a lot of energy.

With that in mind, she glanced around, looking for a seat.

“Come on,” Cu motioned her to one of the rugs, moving to the trunk nearby and pouring something into a glass. “Drink slow. Everything here is potent in Uruk.”

Sipping cautiously, Hakuno found herself fighting back tears. The drink was very strong. “Let’s finish with this place quickly and then go to the palace. We can summon Gilgamesh here and get back to Chaldea.”

“First problem with that,” Cu told her simply, pulling a cushion from the trunk and settling across from her at the small table, “the palace isn’t something one just waltzes into and demands to see the king.”

Damn.

That made sense.

“Second problem,” the man continued, “even if we did persuade them to let us in and let us wander, there’s no way to get the Caster to necessarily notice that we’re here.”

“We could create some kind of issue for him to take note of,” Hakuno offered.

“And if he doesn’t notice, we could end up being killed.”

“What do you suggest then?”

Cu Chulainn motioned at the space. “We’ve been here for over a day. The palace,” he motioned at the center of the table, “is located in the heart of the city. It’s surrounded by the guards and their families.” He drew a circle with his finger around the center of the table. “After that, there are medics, nobles, anyone else of value in the city.” Another circle, “then you have lesser families, people of lesser value.”

“And then the useless people are at the outskirts?”

“Temples mostly,” Cu replied. “We’re about a dozen meters from the temple of Ninsun. In the opposite direction is the temple of Ereshkigal.”

“She’s at Chaldea, maybe-“

“Tried and failed,” Cu replied simply. “I figured a god would have access to those praying. Felt damn stupid whining at a statue that makes her look like a bloated victim of the sea.”

“I’m sure she didn’t look that bad.” Hearing that appealing to her was off the table was not helpful though. They would have to think of something else. Maybe burning the place to the ground would be the way to go. Burning a temple down would attract someone’s attention.

Cu Chulainn grinned more, leaning forward. “Oh, she looked bad. Lips like a fish, eyes looking like she’s debating over whether she left a fire burning. And then they gave her this belly.” He made a motion over his stomach, like he was pregnant. “Let’s just say the woman would not have been impressed with the statue.”

“What do you think we should do?”

“Eh…” He didn’t bother to respond, opting to hum noncommittedly and watch the sun setting outside the windows.

“If we cause trouble, we could be caught,” Hakuno told him. “We could be killed, but if we do nothing, then we’re trapped here.”

“What do you propose then?”

Hakuno looked out the window as well, watching a couple bottles hanging in the window clink against one another. The chiming sound rang in the otherwise quiet space.

There wasn’t many options.

“I think we need to steal something from the palace,” Hakuno told him. “Something that would upset Gilgamesh enough that he’ll come here.”

“And then?”

Hakuno shrugged. “I didn’t say I had a full plan. It’s just all I can think of offhand. You tried appealing to anyone else who could help.”

“We could stay a while. The others back at Chaldea could realize that we’ve disappeared.”

How long would that take though? The question hung on the tip of her tongue. Knowing how her luck tended to run, it seemed unlikely that someone would find them soon. They could be here for months, years, decades even; no one would know where they were.

No, they would need to do some research and do something to capture the king’s attention. If Gilgamesh Caster was, indeed, the workaholic and the king that he claimed to be, there was no doubt that he would notice something valuable of his going missing.

He would come immediately to find it.

“Help me steal Gilgamesh’s treasure,” Hakuno told the man simply.

“Just remember you asked for this,” the man replied. “I’m not getting the blame when the golden asshole gets mad.”

Chapter Text

“Are you in pain?”

The voice was calling to her again. She could hear the voice, lighter than the celestial bells ringing from the church nearby. Her head hurt whenever they spoke. She couldn’t look at the person. It brought tears to her eyes. She wanted to grab their hand and travel the world. She wanted to listen to that voice and cling to the being and cry her heart out.

She called its name, impossible to hear as Hakuno tried desperately to hear the name again.

“It’s okay… You don’t have to worry.” The person’s hand grasped hers, pulling it close. She could feel something wet hitting her hand. “You don’t have to be sad, my friend.”

She didn’t know who the voice was. They just- they were so comforting.

“My doctor is gone,” she confessed to the voice. She felt she needed to be honest to them. They needed to hear nothing but the truth. “They told me today what they’re planning. The Mages Association thinks it will be best. They don’t want to lose the last of my line.”

“They probably sense you have a servant.” The voice murmured.

“I have to… I have to give someone up. I can’t remember who it is, but my heart hurts when I think about it. I can’t lose them. I need to let them live… I want to meet their friend.”

The sobs were choking her. A name floated just beyond her reach. The sorrow that overwhelmed her at the name was making it impossible to breathe. Everything was over. Life. Happiness.

Hope…

“Shhh,” the voice cooed. “Don’t let your face get like that. I don’t like it.”

“I can’t…” This voice was them. Whoever they were. “It’ll be like with your friend and you when you died.”

“It’ll be okay.”

“I’ll never meet your friend. We’ll never get to see anything if I…” The sobs were so loud. She could feel the wetness on her cheeks as something wrapped around her body.

“I won’t let you suffer.” The voice told her. “I won’t let them put you to sleep. You are my other most cherished friend. I’m going to make sure that you meet my friend. Let’s steal the grail from the other master.”

Steal the grail…?

“We can’t.”

“I’m going to do it. I’ll find it for you and-“

“We can’t. They’ll be taking me away in the morning.”

“Then I’ll make a wish in a different way.”

“Please… They’ll make you kill yourself. I can’t let you die.”

“Shhhh,” the voice murmured.

The world went silent, the darkness lingering before she felt something sticky against her fingers. Her eyes opened, her body in a small space of some sort. A body hung nearby, dangling from chains as the doctors and another figure spoke to one another.

Blood dropped into something on the floor, the thing sinking into the floor before the doctors could stop it. The room was in a frenzy.

“What did he wish for?!”

“GET THAT BACK!”

Her mouth opened, the scream escaping her one filled with despair.

Her only friend in the world.

“HAKUNO!”

A pair of arms shook her, drawing her from her sleep.

“DAMN IT HAKUNO! WAKE UP!”

Hakuno grabbed the person holding her, her heart hammering against her chest as she clung to the servant in front of her. Cu Chulainn’s arms wrapped around her, pulling her close and rubbing at her back.

“Cu…”

“Shhhh,” the man shook his head. “You were having nightmares again.”

Hakuno shook her head. She’d never had nightmares. Never really dreamed much to be honest. There were the memories of Enkidu when she had been with Gilgamesh before, but… never nightmares. Never anything she couldn’t remember like this.

“This is the third night of these nightmares,” she murmured.

“You need beer.”

“I need something.”

“It’s not a good solution, but you’ve been trying to exhaust yourself with the laundry and shit for the past couple days.” Pulling away, Cu Chulainn stood up, straightening his robes. “Might as well try my way of doing it. Gets rid of the nightmares, especially the death ones.”

“I just need to remember what happened.”

“Nah, ain’t worth it.” Cu motioned for her again.

“Cu. I’m not coming.”

“I can yell at you all night,” he offered.

He wasn’t going to let it go. Honestly, she was glad he wasn’t going to let it go. She’d rather talk and argue with Cu Chulainn than dream again. Whatever the dream had been, all she could remember was that someone had died. Someone important.

Maybe she had been just dreaming of her fears again. Her naps during the hottest part of the days here in Uruk had been filled with fighting Archer… of dying.

Maybe she had beaten Archer.

Maybe he had been the one that died in her nightmares.

“Alright, one beer,” she relented, standing up and pulling the blankets with her to the other room. She followed in the man’s wake, settling at their odd little table as the man began to pour them both a cool goblet of beer.

The man grinned as he set the goblets in front of them both, plopping onto his cushion.

Ridiculous as ever, it seemed.

“Ya gotta do what I do when these things happen,” Cu told her, pulling some bread from earlier in the evening over. “Ya just let it go. It ain’t happenin’ now. You lived in the end. Death is just temporary. Now, livin’, that shit’s hard. No one gives you a guide on how the hell to deal with people. Everyone makes themselves so complicated. Did I care that you want to hang with some church priest and hide in a basement? No. Do I care that you wanna follow some bratty kids around on school grounds? No.”

He munched on his bread as Hakuno sipped at her drink, trying her best not to cough anymore at the strong liquor.

The man seemed to enjoy referencing something all the time. At this point, all she knew was that the servant had been stuck around a church for a while and absolutely hated priests. Unendingly.

She shook her head.

“I’m just sayin’.” Cu pointed at her with the loaf. “Right now you’re in what I call the sensitive phase. You and my pal Diarmuid are both going through that shit. Stupid shit too. Now, myself and my younger self, we both are in the acceptance phase.”

“And Caster?”

She reached out, pulling a chunk of bread from his loaf and munching on it. She could only smirk at the other’s discomfort.

“I like him,” she told the lancer. “He doesn’t hog the ‘shithole’ at dawn when I need to pee.”

“See, you’ve got this spunky little attitude.” Cu shook his head. “That gold asshole’s a bad influence on you. I swear, I bet you were some sweet little thing when he found you. Taints everything, that dick. You need Cu therapy.”

“Ah, yes. Cu therapy. Did Cu therapy help with not blabbing on like Caster?”

“Caster. Caster.” Cu growled at her. “I swear, you enjoy making me suffer. Fuckin’ Gil Lover.”

She just hummed, stealing a little more of his bread and picking up her goblet. Throwing the man a grin, she turned, heading back towards the other room.

“You know, I think I’m going to study Sumerian some more. You seem like you and your ego are having an intimate moment.”

“You really shouldn’t,” Cu called to her. “You let him in halfway, you’re in for life. Men, we don’t like getting mixed signals. Whatever the hell you’re doing, just be straight. Unless it’s Archer, in which case find a shrink.”

“That’s what I have you for, Cu,” she called.

“Rude little shit.”

“You like me anyway,” she growled back at him, letting the curtain between the bedroom and main room drop between them.

“I ain’t wakin’ ya next time the nightmares come,” he warned her… again.

“I’m not asking you to.”

The man mumbled, no doubt whining about her attitude as he continued to enjoy the late hours. For him, life was simple, even in their situation. This was just another hunt, just another game. He would end up back in Chaldea either through death or rayshift.

For her, things were different.

Her eyes scanned the documents she had found and she sighed.

They needed another way to get to Gilgamesh’s treasure.

Chapter Text

“Behold!” The merchant in the square waved his arms out, eyes wide as he captured the attention of the passerbys in the square. “Like the great king Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu found upon the mighty Bull of Heaven!”

The man raised a pair of horns in the air, letting the golden ends glint in the sunlight. A handful of children watched, their eyes gleaming in intrigue and greed.

“Our caravan has traversed the mighty forests and deserts that surround these lands, hunting down the mightiest bulls on this land,” the merchant roared, his passionate voice capturing the attention of many others. “And, like our great king, we were enraptured by the mighty beasts! Enthralled to keep their horns just as our king was! We slaved upon the carcasses of these animals, pilfered their great treasure and then polished them! Once more pouring our very hearts and souls into creating our own horns of the Bull from Heaven! And they can now be yours!”

“Hakuno.” A hand pressed to her shoulder, pulling her attention away from the square to look up. Her hood fell back slightly as Cu smirked. “You were getting distracted.”

“Sorry. It’s interesting to be here.” Hakuno motioned at the successful merchant. “I always imagined Gilgamesh’s homeland would be nothing but gold and arrogant nobles who bled wealth.”

“Royalty are known for their deception,” the lancer replied vaguely. Their hands once more laced together as he led her through the throngs of visiting caravans and perspective marketplace shoppers. “Come on. I found someone with something of interest.”

Hakuno pulled her hood higher, following after the man without complaint. The heat of the place was still unbearable, with the midday sun blazing to the point where the lands were nothing more than hell, but it was early. Right now, she had a few hours to actually accomplish something before they would need to find their way back to their hideout. Once the sun reached the top of the temples, they would need to hide again.

Three days to learn that fact. She was not a major fan of Uruk.

“This way,” Cu told her.

“Do you trust this person,” Hakuno asked.

The lancer smirked a little. “Trust is a commodity that I don’t hand away, woman. Let’s just say that I have found reason to think that they might be amicable in terms of sharing their interesting object.”

Which meant he had done something.

All she could do was sigh as they reached a door, opting to enter first. Where the sun disappeared, candlelight revealed all. Dirt floors covered in blood, the pungent smell of iron hanging in the air; Hakuno could only shake her head and move forward into the room, watching the little man tied up in the corner squirm.

“P-p-p-p-please!”

“OI!” Cu shut the door, looking over at him as he slid the wooden board into place to lock the room. “Did I say you could speak!?”

“P-please…” the man whimpered.

Hakuno cut the lancer a look before moving forward. “You have something?”

His dark hair glinting in the candlelight, the man nodded vigorously, curling in on himself a little as he spoke. “I-I-I d-do. I found it. I finished it. The palace map. You can find anything. I had planned to sell it to the warring countries, b-b-b-ut you! You are strong. You could take it.”

“Where?”

The man motioned at the wall. “The third brick. It’s loose.”

Cu moved closer as Hakuno climbed back onto her feet, crossing the floor and pulling the brick out. A tablet lay just inside the small space, small enough to fit in her hand, but detailed. Carved lines crisscrossed the surface of the tablet, showing an etching of hallways and rooms.

“You said there was more,” Cu growled.

“Y-yes!” The man motioned at the tablet. “In the middle. That’s where he keeps it. He has the horns hidden there. Along with the path to the gods!”

Path to the gods.

That sounded like a disaster waiting to happen, but the horns would be good. Hakuno slipped the tablet into her robes, looking to Lancer again. “We have what we came for.”

“And the man?”

The man’s eyes were drifting to the windows, his motions frantic. Judging by the amount of blood, it was obvious what Cu Chulainn had done to make him obey and give away the tablet’s location. Something about the man wasn’t right.

“You said you had planned to sell these to warring countries?”

“Y-y-yes!” The little man nodded. “The king is overdue for death. Take everything from him and let him rot in the filth that are his nobles!”

Hakuno looked back at Lancer, “I will meet with you at our rendezvous point.”

“Right.”

Immediately, the begging began again. As she turned, she could hear his voice raise, his scrambling on the floors cushioned and covered by the sound of dragging. The lancer was not going to allow him to simply meander out to the guards. They would be found too easily. They were outsiders in this land.

She shut the door without a backwards glance, running her fingers over the tablet lightly. Lancer had been successful. With this information, they could plan.

Children ran passed her as she crossed the square. Her hood went higher as a guard passed, her body hidden away successfully from the eyes of the lechers and the perverse. Further and further into the throngs of people she went, losing herself amongst the bodies of the king’s people.

The sun was rising higher into the skies, the shadows stretching further into the squares as she passed through the streets.

She stopped before a statue of Ereshkigal, the bloated. Dropping her hood down, she used a well basin nearby to splash her face and neck.

The heat was too much today. The square would be closed early. People would no doubt be spending their time at the rivers, opting for laundry or for play and fishing. She had seen them do this once already. From what one of the citizens had told her, it was a common way for people to spend their day.

“We are not the king after all. The heat reaches us, but eludes him.”

Gilgamesh was damn lucky, Hakuno thought.

“Master.”

Hakuno watched the hooded man approach, hood dropping as he reached the shade. “He won’t reveal our secrets.”

“Did you take a different path to get here?”

“I went through the nobles’ district of the city,” he replied.

Nodding, Hakuno held up the tablet. “We need to prepare to take the palace.”

“Slowly, Hakuno. We can’t just invade the palace.” The lancer looked around a minute before motioning her into the temple through the doors nearby. They moved through the quiet space without a word, ducking behind some nearby pillars.

“Someone out there?”

The man frowned, shaking his head. “I thought I had seen a guard, but they could have been wandering to the rivers.”

She pressed a hand to his chest, nodding without a word. “I want to go before someone realizes what we’ve gotten.”

“You think others knew about our friend’s map?”

“I don’t know, but it’s better to get what we’re after and destroy this stone before someone realizes we have it.”

Those red eyes looked down at her. So similar to the king’s, but lacking the same spark. There was credit to be given: the lancer was strong. He knew how to be clever in his own way, but he thought he was always needing to make jokes. He was far more relaxed at times than she wanted. Staying with him for a long time was out of the question. They wouldn’t suit each other. They were using one another for their own ends.

“Don’t you agree,” she prompted.

“Eh.” He shrugged, “If you think so, then fine. We can go tonight. The moon will be hidden away and Uruk will be asleep.”

The perfect time then. She nodded at the agreement and looked around. “I guess that means we won’t have long. We should gather supplies. We might need something for hiding our identities, something that looks a little less like we’re average citizens.”

“We’ll be fine.” The man replied.

“Do you think we’ll find the horns in one go?”

“Even if we don’t, we could steal something else and return to steal more. One way or another, we can cause enough of a commotion to send the man running here.”

“I want to just be in and out once.” Anything more than that would mean that the guards would be more aware of them. They would be preparing for intruders. As it was, the palace had great guards around the gates. Cu Chulainn had reported that they took their guarding in shifts, each shift only lasting long enough for the guards to be active, but not overly bored. They couldn’t fall asleep at the job because they never were there for quite that long.

Attacking was out of the question. Cu Chulainn had struck that down before. We don’t know how well you can perform magic and there’s a lot of them. Unless you had a couple others with me, I wouldn’t recommend it.

What would you recommend then, she had asked him.

I don’t know. Let me poke around some more.

Holding the results of that in her hands, Hakuno knew they were getting close. They just needed to be careful. They needed to prepare to go in, find the horns of the Bull of Heaven, and get back out.

“You look worried.”

“I’m just worried about our plan not working.”

Lancer shook his head, closing his eyes for a moment as he leaned back. “Damn this reminds me of another time I was summoned. Same kind of weird church. Same cute woman asking me questions. Same impossible end.”

A set of guards entered the temple, stopping a nearby priestess before she could ask him anything. Cu replaced her hood back onto her head and pushed her underneath an altar nearby.

“Stay. I’m going to watch our friends.”

“Cu, just head home. I’ll follow after you in a few minutes.”

“You sure?”

“Of course.” The guards were getting closer. Slipping deeper beneath the altar, she listened to Lancer pray aimlessly for a few minutes. His face was solemn, eyes closed until he was done. The man meandered passed the guards, leaving the temple before she leaned back into the depths of the altar.

Waiting was a frustrating endeavor.

Each moment that she waited was another that the guards seemed more active. Their movements in the room were methodical, patient. Why were they here?

They hadn’t stopped Cu Chulainn from leaving.

“Gentlemen,” a woman from a nearby room strolled to the guards, frowning. “What brings you to this place.”

“We have been told that a map to the palace was found in the city. The man who had it is missing.”

“And that relates to here-“

“A person was seen coming here from the house. We are checking information before the king hears of this.”

“Very well.”

Hakuno looked around, hurrying out from underneath the altar as the temple woman distracted the men. She slipped through the nearest door, looking around a moment before she began to hurry along the corridor.

She needed to change. They knew these clothes. They were looking for someone in these clothes.

Diving into the first bedroom she could find and locking the door, her eyes fell to the only clothes in the room.

The prostitute attire was unmistakable.

“The things I do for him,” Hakuno muttered, pulling her robes off quickly.

Chapter Text

Closer…

Closer…

She could hear the footsteps approaching the room as she scrambled to dress. Her eyes drifted to the window, debating making a go at yanking the fabrics that had been nailed to the window aside in order to exit. If she put her mana into the effort, she might be successful.

Why was she always thinking of running around Babylon in the nude?

The door creaked behind her, a figure looming in the doorway as she spun around. Her hands went to her chest, covering what she could with the strips of fabric.

“What are you doing away from your counterparts, maiden?”

“I-I was just changing. The sun was hot.”

She should have thought of something better to say than that. The figure narrowed his gaze a little, eyes drifting over her person.

“Are you new to the temple?”

“I-I have just given myself over to Ereshkigal.”

“You are just getting into your prime then.” The figure moved to enter the room, a slow grin forming on their features. “How beneficial for Ereshkigal. Have you been introduced to your duties?”

Shit.

There was no taking a step back. No taking back her words to say she wasn’t actually one of the temple maidens. Of course he would think she was open for sex with anyone. The maidens were here to worship and show reverence on the goddess’ part. They were open to the attentions of anyone, listening and experiencing their sins for themselves to impart forgiveness.

She had learned this from Cu on day one of being here.

Shit.

“I-I have been introduced to my duties,” she replied, moving to fix the clothing into place. The quicker she was dressed, the better she could fight. “However, I have been deemed as someone in need of more time amongst the other maidens to become more… experienced- in handling sins. I could recommend one of the other maidens.”

“You’re a terrible liar. Terrible, but your arrogant words remind me of someone.” a voice murmured in her mind. Almost like a memory, the voice laughing softly.

Great. She was going insane. Damn heat.

“I have no need for others, maiden. It is said that sometimes the sins can shape the forgive…” His voice drifted off, a couple voices speaking up down the hall. The sounds of crashing and banging could be heard as metal hit metal somewhere.

“What’s that?”

“Remain here,” the soldier murmured. His sword spun around into his hand, eyes drifting over her one last time. “You will become a promising maiden of Ereshkigal, so long as your body continues to develop as it is.”

Aw, gee. What a swell thought that was. She had no doubt he’d make a great rug on Gilgamesh’s floor, so long as his filthy mind continued to develop as it was.

She hooked the fabrics behind her neck though, moving to the doorway and pausing at the scene down the hall.

What had been a meticulously kept temple, with colors gleaming down from the glass and the statues of Ereshkigal decorating the room was now a mass of rubble and broken glass. Other heads were popping out of rooms, other women putting their clothing quickly back into place.

Everything had been destroyed. There wasn’t a sign of the soldiers and guards that had entered the building.

Amongst the center of the rubble, she could sense a bit of mana though.

Spikes ruptured from the debris, a pair of red eyes gleaming in the darkness.

Cu Berserker.

The being climbed, his claws digging into the mess, over the broken statues and glass. His face was cut and clawed at, one eye faltering in remaining open as he looked around.

Hakuno didn’t spare a moment.

She left the door, opting to hurry to the window once again. Her hands wrapped around the strips of fabric, yanking them from the wall.

She could hear the claws getting closer.

She could hear the women screaming in the other rooms as they tried to run from the beast. They’d get away, merely due to the fact that the beast was not interested in them.

Somehow, Berserker was getting closer to her. She needed to hurry this up.

The first three strips were off the window. There was enough space to slip through.

So she did, wasting not a single moment as she landed in the pile of rags outside. She was in a whirl of motion, letting the mana flow through her as best she could. Her legs took off, carrying her down the street and around the corner of one of the buildings.

There was an underground market a few blocks down from the temple. She slipped beneath the fabrics covering the entrance and hurried through the crowd, thieving a cloak from one of the stands and moving behind the podium to a poison seller. Her heart was beating erratically. Her eyes drifted over to the entrance to the market, noting the figure slipping beneath the fabric.

Those eyes drifted over the scene, unable to see her from where she stood.

Something had attacked him. There was no doubt of that. It looked like claw marks for sure. It was like something had grabbed his face and dug its claws in as far as they could go. It still bled in places, a cut over the beast’s eye no doubt making it harder to see.

Hakuno looked over at the stand, her mind whirling.

While she could run, it wouldn’t mean much in the end. It was kill or be killed.

Running just left a trail of mana to follow.

Her eyes stopped on one of the poisons.

Perhaps… If she just poisoned him here and now, she could slip away. She’d need to relocate with Cu Chulainn when she got the chance, but that was acceptable.

“Miss…?” The stand seller looked over at her, frowning.

“Ah- Ishtar has noted that the man over there holds the power of the Bull of Heaven.” Hakuno motioned at the beast, keeping out of view of him. “She has instructed me to insist that you give him one of the poisons here.”

“I do not pray to the gods,” the seller replied. “I do not entertain the thoughts of mere children wishing revenge on love lost either. GUA-“

She hit him. Right on the back of the neck, sending the man to the ground.

There wasn’t time for another attack or running. If the man called guards, there were a variety of other problems that would develop.

Hakuno pushed the man beneath the stand, looking around before grabbing one of the young slaves. She pulled a bottle from one of the shelves and handed it to the child. “Take this to that beast looking man over there. Make him drink it.”

There was time for forgiveness for sending children in to a fight later. Hakuno lowered herself behind the counter as the child hurried through the throngs of people, tugging at the beast’s coat. True to Cu form, the beast looked down, lowering himself to speak to the child. He accepted the bottle, downing it before he pat the child and looked around again.

She wasn’t actually sure what she’d given him, but it didn’t matter in the end. The seller wouldn’t sell lousy poisons, would he?

She moved carefully behind the stands again, watching the beast as he moved forward in front of them. Each stand he passed made him slow. His grip on the lance he held was lightening. She made it around him, her eyes drifting to the exit as she listened to the sellers and lechers nearby with the human slaves.

A few eyes drifted over her person curiously as she saw Berserker fall to his knees.

Now!

Her hands went to the fabric, tossing it over her head as she escaped back into the Uruk city. Forget her mana, she just needed to run. Her eyes kept drifting back behind her as she went.

No sign of the beast.

She had taken down Berserker. It had been a rather cowardly death but-

She had him down. She could continue with the plan.

Running to the outskirts of the city, Hakuno moved around some of the lesser traveled paths, seeing the house looming ahead.

She could see the lights on within.

Cu Chulainn’s head popped up from beneath a fabric in the window, eyes drifting to her.

She pulled the cloak off as she approached, breathing a sigh of relief.

She was free.

Entirely free from her opponent.

The doorway fabric was pulled aside, her relief only washing over her that much more as she entered the hide out. Once again, she was on safe grounds. Nothing and no one would get her here. She was safe for another day.

“Hakuno,” Cu looked over at her from the table, beer in hand. “I know I said that I was gonna let you decide what the hell ya wanted to do here, but shit. You could probably just go up to the temple in that getup and sleep your way to Gilgamesh.”

“You’re not funny,” she told him for the thousandth time, wrapping the cloak back around her frame.

Damn him.

“I just hadn’t thought about using you in that manner,” Cu told her, laughing a little more. His eyes were roaming over her person, taking advantage of the situation before it was quickly gone. Never before had she loved being hidden away more.

“They know about the map,” she told him, beginning an explanation that merely ended with a nod.

“I figured,” Cu yawned, pushing a bowl of soup her way. “Eat. We’re leaving soon.”

“You figured?” She moved to sit. “If they know we have the map, then they know we’ll be coming.”

“Yeah, but you’re a prostitute.”

“Cu-“

He raised a hand. “Hold on, now. Don’t get all mad. I’m just sayin’, seeing you like that gave me an idea. You’ll see when we get there.”

“I also ran into Cu Berserker.”

“And?”

“He’s poisoned and passed out in that underground market you almost sold me to the other day.” Hakuno stole the man’s drink, chugging down the contents only to gasp. “He looked beaten though. I don’t think he’s working alone.”

“Let’s not take too long then, eh?” Lancer stole back his drink, setting it aside. “And no more drinking. You’re gonna spill on yourself.”

She shook her head, moving to sit down and lean against the wall a moment.

Air was needed right now.

All she needed was a moment to breathe.

Chapter Text

Silence had taken over the city of Uruk.

Pure, unadulterated silence; as all the people lay asleep in their beds and the guards of the palace themselves considered the idea of such luxuries as they stood amongst the mighty temple that was the Babylonian palace.

It was a high in the air building, with open areas for the king to lounge upon to look down at his subjects. It’s beautiful archways and intricate interior were the envy of countless nations. It’s rich tapestry of artwork upon the walls and colorful illustrations mimicked only that of the most illustrious artisan’s dreams. Each and every inch of the palace and its immediate surroundings were the epitome of Gilgamesh’s persona.

And Gilgamesh’s world was a splendor of a place. Naturally, only someone like him would come from somewhere that was filled with such prestige, such glorious and blinding triumph over the mundane and the bland.

“Damn place is too gaudy,” Lancer muttered, pulling Hakuno from her thoughts.

“You’re supposed to be escorting me up to the palace,” Hakuno whispered.

“You remember what the plan is, correct?”

As though they hadn’t reviewed what they would do a thousand times already. Hakuno nodded. “I remember. You’ll leave me at the foot of the palace. I go up, claiming to be summoned for a temple blessing at the palace. I go in. I open a side door for you to enter.”

“After getting rid of its guards.”

“Right.”

“I’ll nick the horns, we go home.”

“If someone sees us, we lift the hoods of our cloaks hidden away in my robes and book it to our meeting point.”

“That’s my girl,” Lancer ruffled her hair lightly, leaning in closer. “Remember: You’re a temple maiden. They’re not shy or innocent. They’re women in every sense of the word.”

Oh, but had they practiced that. She could almost proposition herself without turning into a blushing and embarrassed mess. The Lancer had laughed countless times at her as she had tried doing anything he suggested. Lowering her chest a little so he could see her cleavage, lifting her robes so he could see her legs; anything he had recommended, she had given a shot. Thinking and doing an action were vastly different, however, as she found herself turning into a heated mess and running for their room a couple times.

They had agreed to begin simple. She would make her claim while leaning slightly forward and hope that would be enough.

“Time to shine, my temple maiden,” Lancer murmured, hurrying away into the night.

She kept a slow pace up the stairs, watching the world glinting here and there from the steps to Gilgamesh’s home. Her fear climbed with her, hitching a ride on her anxiety. Each stair seemed so close to ruin, each new level of view combined with a new level of opportunity for their plan to fail.

Cu would have to find a way up the palace without someone seeing him.

Cu would have to be ready at whatever door she chose.

She would have to keep it together.

What if the guard was not interested?

What if the guard didn’t believe her?

What if she was captured?

What if she died?

The guards’ faces were visible as she found herself at the landing and entrance to the palace. Sweat was dripping slightly down her back as she bowed low to the guards.

“I am here to bless the palace?”

The guards grunted.

“…May I pass?”

“Which goddess’ maiden?” The guard on the left asked. His scarred face frowned down upon her, waiting as though his mind were already made up.

“…E-ereshkigal.”

The two frowned. “Ereshkigal?”

Fuck, she couldn’t remember a single other goddess at the moment.

“A blessing from her is new,” the one on the right stated.

“One must always be ready when goddesses address them,” Hakuno tried. “She was very adamant.” Hopefully, she was far away from here, not listening to a word of what was happening in Uruk.

“What does she hope to gain through her blessing?”

She had not practiced this. She hadn’t prepared at all. “Less Ishtar.”

The two men laughed, boisterously. Their weapons still blocked the path as Hakuno felt her hopes draining. She wouldn’t have much of a choice. She and Lancer would have to try something else. Food delivery. Peddlers. Blow an entrance into the damn place.

“Go ahead, little maiden,” The Scarred Guard stated, clearing the path. “Less Ishtar is welcome at all times. It’s encouraging to find the underworld goddess relieving our king of the stress.”

She was going to praise Ereshkigal forever for being a blessing for this. Hakuno passed through the doorway, moving into the main area and looking around. The side doors had six guards each, sans the front door for some reason.

Still, her eyes caught sight of a skylight, the light streaming in dimly from the moon. Her body moved towards it automatically, pushing it open and looking out at the world. Plain glass windows like this weren’t invented for a while. Gilgamesh must have traversed time to improve his home.

“Less Ishtar?” a voice asked in a whisper.

“It was all I could think of,” Hakuno replied.

Lancer slipped down into the window with her, closing it quickly behind him. “We need to hurry. Which way to the horns?”

“Down four hallways. We’ll need to enter the center of the palace.”

“You could go home-“

What was he on about now?

“Don’t even, Cu,” she hissed. “We do this together.”

Each step they took was making her begin to rethink that statement. The hallways were too quiet. Each torch was unlit, with some hallways pitch black as they passed. Hakuno found herself feeling the tablet’s mapping, her hands scanning the walls blindly at times as Cu held onto her waist.

“How much further?” He would ask.

It was forever further.

Each path seemed to be longer than the last. Each moment seemed that much closer to a guard or a servant or someone being near. Part of her expected Berserker or a monster. As though in response to her thoughts, it felt like the shadows began to dance around them. Thousands upon thousands of eyes in the darkness, all felt like they were upon her; even as she reasoned that less than hundreds would fit down some of these side hallways.

Yet reason had fled with the light, taking comfort in the arms of insanity.

Her hand wrapped around Cu’s anxiously.

Just as he had been her comfort in this city of Uruk, alone and overheated at times; Cu was also her comfort from the impending darkness. She held onto his hand, guiding the path and murmuring to him. Small things, lest they alert someone of their presence.

“Soon.”

The man would squeeze her hand once.

“Thank the gods for a silent evening.”

His arm wrapped around her protectively.

She paused before the next hallway, catching light around the corner. A great set of double doors, with brass lion heads for handles and a great bird tearing apart a serpent was engraved upon the wood. In the flickering light of the torches on either side, ruby eyes peered out at them.

There was nothing pretty about the doors. Nothing said that this was the doorway to her Gilgamesh’s office. Rather, it felt more like the pathway to a glorified war monger. It felt more like a doorway that would lead to blood and death.

“This must be it.” She felt their path once again on the stone tablet to be sure. Sure enough, it felt like the center of the palace.

“Ostentatious,” Cu muttered.

It was, but she shook her head. “Come on.”

The room beyond the door was quiet, completely filled with books and paperwork. Walls covered in scrolls and tapestries. The desk, if one could call such a monstrosity a desk, was invisible with all the papers on them.

“There we go,” Cu moved forward, motioning at her. “Hand me my cloak and bag, Hakuno.”

“Right.”

The items were in his hand immediately, her eyes glued to the horns.

They were larger than any of the replicas that the merchants had sold, the very ends gleamed in a thousand colors, as though the gold color they were the rest of the way was not worthy enough for glory.

Hakuno moved forward, walking around Cu Chulainn to run her hand over one of the horns.

This…

Both of these horns were what Enkidu had died for. He and Gilgamesh had gone against the gods to kill this beast. Gilgamesh had made his statement to them all, slaying the beast with his friend and cutting off the horns.

Despite losing Enkidu, he had kept the horns, mounting them as a reminder.

They had to be his reminder. Why else keep something so closely tied to someone so dear.

She couldn’t imagine trying to keep something of Gilgamesh’s close at hand if she had lost him. She wouldn’t have been able to function. The reminder would have-

“Master,” Cu leaned over her shoulder. “We should be bagging and running.”

“I know. Just… These are so important to him.”

“They are.” Cu yanked one violently off the wall, bagging it and grinning. “Hence, we’re stealing it. We shouldn’t wait around while doing this. You can admire them when we’re safe.”

He was right. He was absolutely right. Hakuno moved to slip her sweater dress from the bag onto the king’s chair, draping it as Cu bagged the other horn. She stood in front of it, blocking the sight of it from the other’s gaze as he passed.

“Let’s go.”

She nodded, following after the lancer towards the door.

Through the door, down the hall…

Hakuno pulled her hood overhead. The horns she took from Cu Chulainn, holding close to her person. Gilgamesh’s treasured item.

Almost done.

“It would seem we’ve got the chance to fight again,” a voice sang out, the lights on either end of the hallways illuminating the space. A pink haired figure stood at the other end of the hall, smiling brightly as her spear spun in hand. “It’s been so long since I’ve gotten the chance to do any fighting. Shame it won’t last long!”

Insides freezing, Hakuno moved to grab Cu, but the man wouldn’t have it. His hands gripped her, sliding her across the floor and slamming the office doors shut.

“Hiding your friend, Celt?” Bathory’s sing-song voice rang out through the doors. “Don’t worry, I’ll get her soon enough. She and I have history together.”

Damn it!

If Cu Chulainn was defeated, then she was in trouble. She needed to get Gilgamesh to find her faster. What’s more-

Her hands were digging up one of the horns immediately, running back to the king’s office as the first clash of lances. Her body dropped to the floor underneath where the horns had been. If Bathory was here, there was a chance that the other was here. The Berserker. Perhaps the poison hadn’t been as strong as she had suspected.

She scraped the message as fast as possible into the wood panel, pulling back as the doors were thrown open. Without a thought, she moved, tying the bag into place and firing a shot towards the others.

Bathory fell back, Cu climbing to his feet in a blur of motion from where he had fallen into the room.

“We need to go!” He called her way.

“Let’s move!”

The sound of guards could be heard. Hakuno blasted a shot at the woman as she tried to climb to her feet. Her stomach churned as she reached the blue lancer.

“Hakuno,” Cu pulled her closer, pushing her through the door.

“We need to get out of here.”

Guards were closer. There was little doubt that they were closing in. Bathory’s laughing was unmistakable as Hakuno and Cu Chulainn ran.

Open ground. They needed open ground for this.

Hands wrapped around her waist, the floor vanishing a moment before Hakuno felt her body yanked around a pillar. The city glistened just at the peripheral of her view.

“Cu!”

“Quiet!” Cu growled. The two of them dangled from his lance, the spear stabbing into the side of the open window. Not far below, a set of guards watched one of the doors. Her heart quickened, sweat tickling at the base of her neck.

If the enemy realized that they were here, they were screwed. This was no place for a fight. No place even to get caught.

“Cu-“

“Don’t breathe, don’t speak.” Cu glanced down at her.

He was right. They needed to be-

“Oh, don’t worry. I watched you leap.”

They both looked up, seeing the woman grin. Her lance was moving towards them as Hakuno aimed a shot and fired. It went directly to her face.

Cu Chulainn’s spear came loose. Everything began to spiral as they plummeted towards the guards below. Cu Chulainn’s body wrapped around hers, pulling her close as they fell downwards.

Their feet hit the ground a second before Cu Chulainn was yanking her onwards.

They moved without pause, down the steps. The sound of shouting and lances being thrown through the air could be heard. Cu Chulainn’s arms pulled her tighter to him as they made it to the buildings. The feeling in her legs was agonizing, her stomach and arms aching.

“Hakuno?” Cu’s gaze flickered to hers.

“Cu… I can’t… I’m so tired.” She was tasting blood again. Her arm was hurting so bad.

“I told you not to use that damn magic so much. Geez, woman.” Cu hoisted her up, cradling her as they ducked behind another building. The moonlight was disappearing behind a cloud. Once more, the world around them turned to darkness.

And to the guards, they were gone.

Chapter Text

Gilgamesh stared at the news he had received, staring into the spell he had cast upon the floor.

“The horns of the Bull of Heaven have been stolen.”

They felt like foreign words on his tongue, like someone else was trying to tell a cruel joke.

Rage came from his left, something slamming loudly against the hall. Lacking a better term for his behavior, Caster could only watch tiredly as the man climbed to his feet in rage. The chair he had thrown was broken into pieces. The sound that escaped him was monstrous, echoing off the walls as the man began to throw everything else he could get his hands on.

“CAN YOU DO NOTHING, CASTER!?”

“I was not there. I cannot be blamed for this.”

“Oh no?” A handful of gates opened, swords slamming home around him as Caster watched the man storm forward. He was weaker, both from not having a master and from using his magic too often. The more time went by, the closer the man came to death. What had once been a prideful and arrogant archer was now pale, looking more plain by the day. “We lost him. We lost Hakuno. And now this? Should we lose everything within the gates as well?”

“You’re losing control again,” Caster told him. “I will shift to Babylon myself to investigate. The guards believe they saw two figures running away with the horns. I will find them.”

“You can’t even find our master.”

He was hurting, he reminded himself. Still, the Archer’s comment went down poorly. It had been days since they had seen their master. She was out there somewhere, hungry and unable to find them. He had tried using the command spells and contract he had with her. He had tried bribing the youth in Chaldea into hunting for her.

Kid Gil had begun summoning toys into Archer’s room to summon her back, only to be harassed to his limits by Archer.

Gudako had blocked him from visiting the others now, speaking through King Hassan.

“Are you wanting to come with me then?” Caster found himself sneering. “Think you can stop mourning your dead friend for five minutes to spend time resolving an actual problem?”

Those red eyes froze, the room darkening as they locked eyes. The golden archer’s armor came into fruition, his movement slow and calculating. “Say that again.”

Shit. “Forget it.”

If there had ever been more ill words spoken, he could not think of them. Archer was going to kill him for that.

“Say that," the archer hissed. "One. More. Time.”

Caster moved to the door slowly, shaking his head. “I spoke out of turn. We’re both tired. Let us return to Babylon and find the horns. Once we have them, we can return here and resume the search.”

“How dare you,” the man snarled, voice almost a whisper. “How. Dare. You.”

There was no need to pause or hesitate. Caster moved out of the room, sprinting down the hall as the man behind him gave chase. They rounded the corner, his eyes trained ahead.

He had to get back to Babylon. Hakuno was here in Chaldea. She would come out soon. She would get tired. She would want to talk to someone. Atalanta had told him she would inform him when the woman appeared. The cat eared woman knew he was in pain. She sympathized.

Nitocris and Ozymandias were still searching.

Throwing the rayshift room open, he ran in, watching as the other stormed into the room after him. With a handful of words, Caster cast the room into action, watching their surroundings change. The communication device in his pocket would be used later.

Babylon appeared around them in the form of their bedroom. The mana of the palace filling him with just that much more energy.

Thank the gods, it felt good to feel close to what it felt like to be around Hakuno. Felt good to be king.

“Say it again,” Archer hissed.

“Archer.” Caster crossed his arms. “The horns need to be found. We can argue later.”

The man moved forward, face smoothing out as they came chest to chest. “You are not a mage. You’re barely even a king. A king fights for their friend. A king keeps what is theirs, not shares. I allowed you to hold what was mine on the terms that you were me, in some form or another." The man's eyes gleamed as he kept that stoic look to his face. "Hakuno, when found, belongs to me. The horns, when they are found, belong to me. You can remain on your false throne and attempt to find where you differed from my mindset.”

He spat on the ground.

“You are a false and meek version of a king. Worthless in every sense.”

“Help me find the horns, you arrogant excuse of a king.”

Hatred was emanating off them both before the archer turned, walking through the doors.

Without him in the room, Caster had to breathe. His hands wrapped around one of the banisters to the bed. Slowly, painfully, he had to bring his own heartrate back down.

Where would the horns be?

A thief would have been smart. They would have run for it, escaping to one of the neighboring cities and trying to pawn off their wares. Merchants would use this information of the theft to their advantage. Within hours…

No, Enkidu hadn’t lost his life for him to lose their trophy they had won together. They had defeated the bull together. It was all…

“Guards!” Caster called for the help, watching a half dozen move into the room. “I have come with another version of myself for the horns. My younger self is going to search on his own. I demand you bring me what information you have."

"The information is in its usual location," one of the guards told him. "We have already informed your other self of the information's location."

"Fine," Caster replied, shaking his head. "While he remains bullheaded, I am going to reason what-“

His voice drifted off at the sight of gold hair heading his way. The man possessing it was once more a storm without a calm. The guards dispersed at the very faint traces of that tension heading their way. Archer was stared at him though, his body shaking.

“What is this, Archer?”

“The guards showed me this,” Archer replied, the words coming out slowly. Like he was fighting to remain as calm as he was. The man held up a hand, showing him the sweater dress.

That…

Caster’s eyes widened.

They weren’t dealing with a thief in this for the thrill of stealing from a region’s king. They were dealing with a servant enemy. The grey sweater was stained in places with mud. Torn here and there even. The wearer had been traversing somewhere that had been filthy. Woods perhaps or…

The forests.

Hakuno was in the hands of their thief.

“They have stolen from us twice,” Gilgamesh snarled.

“Find me the horns!” Caster barked. “Bring me back the woman with them!”

The guards all leaped into motion, running for the doors. Archer remained still, clutching the sweater in his hands.

“They have my Hakuno and my-“ he stopped himself from saying the clay one’s name. He couldn’t. The pain was still too fresh. It always would be. “They have my treasures. They have stolen from me and I’ll see them killed before this day is done.”

“We need to be careful.” Rationale was hard. His mind and body roared with the same icy fire that the Archer was spouting. The true needs were simple.

Find the treasures.

Claim the woman.

Kill the culprit who stole from them.

But that wouldn’t help.

“You don’t have much magic left, Archer. We need to be aware that whoever is holding Hakuno hostage could harm-“

“They won’t have the chance.” Archer turned once again, tucking the sweater beneath his armor. “They won’t have the chance to speak, let alone move. I have surrendered what is mine once. I won’t do so again.”

“What are you going to do?”

The golden archer was opening the gates of Babylon, pulling out-

“ARE YOU MAD?!”

Archer looked over at him, holding the vial close. “I have lost her thrice. Once to her memory. Once to the bitch who trapped us in a labyrinth alongside a system that sought to steal her. Now to a thief." The man merely looked down at the vial, filled with the very last piece of what had been an immortality herb from the land of the gods. The thing gleamed as it had when they had found it. The pull to use it- well...

There was a reason the gods had protected it so zealously.

"I will not chance her again," Archer murmured. "Even if she will not approve. I keep what is mine. Forever.”

“We informed the gods-“

“I know what we said to them. I know we informed them and the mortals that this herb was destroyed. I also know I don’t give a shit at this point. If the thief tries to kill her, I will use this to stop Ereshkigal’s claim. If they die first, then I will use this to ensure Ereshkigal can have no claim in the future. I will bed my woman in this room and cement my contract before anything else can happen.”

He had lost it, truly and deeply lost it. He needed to find Hakuno before Archer did. He needed to make sure she was whole and healthy. His eyes drifted to the sweater.

“May I see the sweater?”

With it, he could cast a spell of some sort. There had to be one in his tomes. He'd have the garment lead him to the woman's location.

“It remains with me," Archer growled, eyes turning away. "Gods have mercy if the man has seen what is mine in her full splendor. I will show them none.”

Damn him and his bravado.

Caster moved through the room, slipping through the doors and taking the opposite direction.

As with all information relating to the palace, someone would have gathered the information to inscribe upon a tablet. What’s more, they would have taken the liberty of placing such information on his desk for his perusal. Sure enough, he could see the documents waiting, the writer sitting nearby as he walked in. Upon seeing him, the man moved to stand, earning a wave.

“I have no time for reading. Inform me of what you know.”

“The thief was two, we believe.” The man informed him.

“Two?” Here he had thought he had heard incorrectly earlier. Had he brought Hakuno against her will here? Was it two servants?

“The guards were only made aware due to an attack happening to them.” The man wrung his hands nervously. “It seems like there may have been a third person trying to steal, but they intercepted the others instead. We caught the end. A woman with horns and pink hair was one. She leaped from the windows, disappearing. The other two, the smaller holding the horns, escaped just above an entrance. It seems they were using a lance as well. The cloth given to your younger self was where the horns normally hung. We assumed it would mean something, but…”

“My younger self and I were courting a woman who donned that cloth as part of her attire,” Caster replied easily. “The two intruders, any description?”

“They wore hoods. One had a spear like the pink haired woman.”

Bathory was fighting them. There were many lancers that he had researched during his time in Chaldea. Getting a description of the lance would do little good as well. Their weapons were too similar in many cases.

“Language?”

“They didn’t speak.”

“Hair?”

“The hoods, my king.” The conversation was going nowhere. Even as the scribe sat there, his shaking and wavering voice were showing a strong need for elsewhere. Anywhere in all honesty.

“The horns were stored in here, correct?” He knew the answer, but they needed a simpler question for now. Something that could be answered easily. The scribe needed to feel like they weren’t failing their king. Submissive beings enjoyed being useful and knowledgeable. Their happiness ensured continuous usefulness.

“Yes, my king. Behind your desk as instructed. Polished daily.”

Caster moved behind the desk, running his hand over the wall lightly.

A symbol was etched near the floor. A-

“Leave me for now,” Caster told the man.

“Yes, your Highness.” The man sprinted, slamming the door as he went.

Without him in the room, the attention and focus could go on the scene of the crime. The empty space where the horns were supposed to hang showed two circles; where the sun had shone on the horns time and time again. The sun had bleached the walls around their hanging space, leaving the space beneath darker.

The wall itself was scratched here and there, but at the base of the wall and floor… A small, Sumerian symbol was visible. He brushed at the papers at the floor, finding a full line of text.

Treasure stolen by a mongrel master and protector. Beware the berserker.

Berserker?

The tension in his chest loosened. Hakuno was the one that had stolen the horns. With someone else, it would seem. That being said though, she should have known that Bathory wasn’t a berserker. The woman was clearly a lancer. She whined about with every other word. She should have known…

Unless she had not been referring to Bathory.

In that case, she was still in danger. Someone else was after his master.

Pulling himself to his feet, he took one last moment to admire the writing. His master was quite the talented little writer. What’s more, calling herself a mongrel master… Amusing little thing, she was. He would reward her so called protector. They had assisted his master in being able to find him again. So long as he found the two before his Archer self, then all would be well.

Damn. Archer would kill the protector.

He could only run, sprinting down the front steps of the palace and searching beneath the summer sun. With the sun up high, no one would be spending much time in the city of Uruk. The rivers would be the destination for anyone and everyone outside. The buildings would be where they would have to hide away in.

There were so many buildings though.

Archer’s armor was impossible to see around the buildings.

Where would Hakuno go? Archer was no doubt working his way out of the city, one building at a time. Perhaps checking the water in case they tried to hide in plain sight.

But Hakuno wouldn’t do that. Why couldn’t she have written where she was? She could write that cryptic nonsense, but not a ‘find me here’ message?

They would discuss this together later.

The inner circle of the city was filled with nobles, the first few of which told him of his younger self’s visit. He moved out further to check the next ring of homes. Doctors, scribes, useful people. He could see Archer pushing himself into those homes and skipped out further.

If she wasn’t in the city, then she was hiding in the outskirts. Lesser civilians lived there. Those who conspired with the merchants and boats. Hunters and other lesser people. No one would think twice of two people moving in at the outskirts. They could remain.

“HAKUNO!” He called out into the sunlight as it beat down upon him. It was reaching the apex of the skies. He would need to turn back soon. The sunlight would make it impossible to travel. The heat would be too high. All those outside would die or suffer.

Still, a part of him rejected the thought. His master was close. He could find her.

Archer was running behind him, his armor gleaming in the sunlight.

“I heard your yell,” he exclaimed, his speed slowing as he caught up.

“She has someone protecting her. She’s our thief. She’s possessing the horns,” Caster told him impatiently. “HAKUNO!”

“HAKUNO!” Archer’s voice was louder, roaring over the summer heat.

“HAKUNO!”

“Damn it. Fuck this.” Archer’s armor disintegrated for his royal robes, the red fabric fading as the man used the last of his magic. The man took off at a breakneck pace, holding her sweater and the vial with the immortality herb in his arms. “HAKUNO! COME OUT! GET OUT HERE!”

Caster gave chase, running alongside the man. His magic was overflowing as best he could, keeping the archer alive. He could supply the man with enough life to make it to Hakuno. Archer had been the one she had been fighting to have. He had been the one that she had run to when she had feared losing herself to another.

Losing him when they were so close.

A doorway moved. A flash of brown shot from beneath the material, white fabric fluttering around her body as the woman lunged forth from the building. Hands moved back and forth, chest bouncing as the woman tried to move heaven and earth in that moment. Her mouth was moving, but the two golden kings were beyond hearing the words. Still, they rang through the world.

“GILGAMESH!”

The red fabric encompassed the fluttering white figure, the woman’s face disappearing as it ran into the archer’s. Her hair was captured, hands tangling between brown locks as their mouths devoured one another. Everything in the king’s hands were released, falling between them as the man held what was his. Their bodies were one under the summer sun, fighting to remain connected.

Air was unimportant.

Breathing: nothing more than an inconvenience.

Every time their lips parted, their names formed between them. They panted, staring into one another’s eyes. When the air seemed to be returning, they were once more connected by lips. Over and over, dying and living within their own space.

His feet were disappearing.

Caster couldn’t use much more magic at this point. Exhausted, overheated, starved; he moved forward, putting a hand between them.

“How-“

“You’re disappearing,” Caster told the archer, ignoring the look of wrath coming over the man’s face. “He needs a contract immediately, Hakuno.”

Hakuno’s hands tangled in the man’s hair, the words coming out without hesitation. She stopped as she saw his legs vanishing, opting for-

Once again they were kissing, Hakuno demanding him to be her servant.

The responding laugh rang out through the land, disappearing like the heat radiating off the buildings and earth. The expression on Archer’s face was unlike anything he had ever seen on the king as he smiled down at the woman. “I accept your contract, Hakuno Kishinami... my little queen.”

Caster frowned as the man returned to fruition. Hakuno’s eyes dulled, her body tensing as the king held her to himself and shut his eyes. His fingers ran through her hair, his murmuring impossible to hear without being as close as Hakuno was.

Something was wrong…

A figure stood nearby, watching the two embrace from the doorway. His blue hair hung over one shoulder, the robes he had on barely covering his tattoos. The red spear leaning against his person was a dead giveaway.

“Cu Chulainn.” Caster moved forward, letting the couple have their moment. “What are you doing here?”

“The lass was tossed into a singularity. Figured she’d need some help.” The man shrugged, “Well, that and I was tossed in myself. Not much else to do than help wherever able.”

“You helped Hakuno steal the horns.”

“I did.” His smile radiated the pure joy of admitting that to him. “She was very clever with how to get in and out. I can tell why the king is so attracted to her.”

“Thank you for protecting what was ours.”

“It’s what a servant does for their master,” Lancer replied, itching at his hair nonchalantly.

Servant?

That meant-

Caster spun around as Archer was now on his knees, holding the woman close to himself. The damn idiot was thinking that the woman was just overwhelmed from being able to see and save him. Holding her in his embrace, hiding her from the summer heat and onlookers, it was impossible to tell how she was doing.

The woman had a lot of servants.

Stalking forward, Caster moved behind her back, stroking a hand along the white fabric.

“Hakuno… Hakuno!”

Archer scowled, pulling back as well as Hakuno pulled back just slightly, her eyes closed as she leaned against Archer’s chest.

“I’m fine, Caster… I am just really tired.”

“Damn it, woman! You think to faint on me here?” Archer moved to his feet again, wrapping her in the kingly robes that had been bestowed upon them by their mother. “Here of all places. And in Ereshkigal’s garments! Can you not dress yourself in my own city?”

“Archer, we need to consider taking-“

The man wasn’t listening, admonishing the woman in his arms as he pushed the vial with its herb towards her lips and the sweater dress in her lap. Holding her as one would a bride, he moved towards the palace, ignoring the world for his own sense of pleasure.

“He is a one track mind as usual,” Lancer commented, leaning behind him.

“Has Hakuno suffered symptoms from having multiple servants thus far?”

Lancer shook his head, “nah. She’s been fine. She did have trouble after firing a few rounds of magic towards Bathory the other night though. She hadn’t really moved much until she heard you lot calling for her.”

“What are your intentions with her now?”

“Hmm?”

Of course the idiot probably hadn’t thought about it. “You’ve been with her for a while now, Lancer. It’s only reasonable that you would become attached. She’s very easy to bond with.”

The man yawned, motioning him towards the palace before walking alongside him. “I have a master. Gudako may still need me as well. Helping little Hakuno was all well and good. Hell of an entertaining time, but I don’t really need to abandon my previous master. I was here and I did what I could for who needed me.”

Okay. So they didn’t need to explain the man to Gudako. He would go back.

“That being said,” Lancer grinned, “If Gudako doesn’t mind, I may stick around with the kid for a while. I had a hell of a great time.”

Hakuno could explain those words to him. He wouldn’t believe a word that came from the lancer.

More importantly, they needed to get Hakuno to the shade and comfort of the palace. The archer had run ahead obviously, missing as the guards were back in their usual stations around the doors. Lancer walked closer to him as they passed the hired help, letting his lance disappear as they made it inside.

“Advisor!” Caster snapped towards a passing scribe. “Where is my younger self and the woman?”

“They’ve gone to the baths, my king!”

“Oi,” Lancer tugged at his arm.

“What?”

Once more, he was cursing internally as the man before him spoke up. “I wouldn’t bother. Those two are gonna be lip locked and distracted for the gods only know how long. I know personally that she's got some kinda preference for him. Damn fool. Anyway, let’s get something to eat and let them have their time.”

“If Hakuno is suffering from too many servants-“

“She ain’t.” Lancer motioned towards the advisor. “Oi. Where’s the food in this place?”

The poor man was trembling before the lancer, looking between the two of them in fear of answering… or not answering and facing castigation.

“It’s this way,” Caster told the man, waving the poor man away. “We will allow Hakuno and Archer an hour to reacquaint themselves to one another. Then I will see to her.”

“Whatever you have to tell yourself,” Lancer replied, following in his wake again.

Chapter Text

She had taken what the man had given her without hesitation, swallowing it down as they had made their way through the sweltering heat. The sweet flavor had lingered on her tongue as they had passed into the shade.

Her body felt so light, so very numb. Her mind flickered through the fact that he was here. Once again she had to realize again and again that the golden haired king was before her. There was no romantic bone in her body. It wasn’t something she had truthfully fantasized about when she had spent all that time with Lancer.

Yet her heart was beating against her chest as she saw his face. Those red eyes were gleaming like fire as they looked down at her. In all of her lifetimes, she had never once seen anyone look anything like the proud king holding her.

Once more, her body seemed to combust, burning where she was not being touched.

“We need to cool you down,” the man told her, ending the tirade he had been on about. Something about clothes, if she had caught any word of what had been said in that irreplaceable voice of his. “I will bathe you myself. Take pride in being valuable enough for such treatment.”

She leaned her head to where his heart pounded, listening to the world move around them. The sound of splashing water could be heard before she felt him settling her down on the floor. Their bodies seemed loath to the idea of separation, his leg remaining against hers as he laid her on the floor and peeled his clothing off.

The temple outfit and his red cloak were removed from her person next, their bodies sliding quietly into the waters. Perfumes met her senses, his forehead pressing to hers.

“You will be punished for falling asleep on me,” he warned her gently.

“I don’t want to wake up,” Hakuno murmured. “I’m going to stay right here and hold onto you as long as possible.”

The man snorted, pulling them both under a moment. Her senses immediately jolted, eyes opening wide as they broke the surface a moment later. His hands held her head, cradling it as their foreheads remained pressed against one another.

“I am right here,” the archer growled. “You are not allowed to ever doubt me, Hakuno.”

“I don’t think I could,” Hakuno replied.

“You’re mine. Do you understand?” His hands moved to her shoulders, her waist. He moved them to the side of the baths, settling her upon his lap so his wandering hands could explore. “Every single inch of this body. Of this magic. This is all mine. Every single thought in your head. Every single breath that escapes these lips.” He used a hand to hold her jaw.

The curling smile that formed upon those lips had her heart pounding in double time.

“Especially everything that forms from these; it’s all mine, woman.”

As childish as ever. He held onto people like toys, trophies to keep within his gates of Babylon. Her hands moved to his hair, returning the selfishness.

“You can’t say that and not be mine as well,” Hakuno told him.

“I never claimed to be otherwise,” Gilgamesh replied.

“I’m glad I got you back. I’m so glad.” She had imagined a thousand scenarios, stealing the king in the night or pleading with the woman who had stolen away Lancer’s contracts time and time again. She had imagined fighting the great mage, Gudako, until she was defeated. Gudako had always ended up being this tall, unparalleled beauty filled with hatred and wrath. She had imagined the woman with long nails, clawing at her as they had fought again and again for the king.

Fighting her own archer had been a recurring nightmare as well, a fear that had echoed in her deepest thoughts as she had tried to focus on stealing the horns of the Bull of Heaven.

“Don’t you dare think of anything else,” Gilgamesh growled.

“I was thinking about what lengths I had planned to go through for you.”

The grin returned, lips feeding her more of his affections as she remained settled in place upon his lap. “That is appropriate. I will allow such thoughts, so long as you share them with me. I’m curious what my squirrel of a master thought to go through to earn me at her side.”

Squirrel. The urge to roll her eyes was overwhelming as she ran a hand down the man’s chest.

The king clapped his hands, earning a couple guards hurrying into the room.

“Wine,” Gilgamesh commanded. “Something to eat as well.”

“Something cold,” Hakuno pleaded, pressing herself against the king to avoid having the guards seeing anything. She could feel the king’s hands moving down her back, toying with the ends of her hair.

“You’re improving,” Gilgamesh told her, motioning the guards to hurry off with their demands. “If they bring back the right things, I will show you more of what I promised. You require pleasure.”

“Pleasure’s already here. I have you with me.”

Laughter, unbridled and loud, echoed around the chamber. “True, true! What a wise master you’ve become in your time away from me. Perhaps having time alone has sweetened your tune properly.”

This time, she had to roll her eyes, opting to lean against him and let him laugh to his heart’s content. The sound of his amusement was at least a comfort. No matter how hard she had tried, it was hard to imagine a laugh like the king’s, let alone attempt to mimic it. He was obnoxious about his laugh, letting it loose upon the world without any kind of limitations or reasoning. He laughed in a commanding way, demanding his humor be shared.

“What did you do with your time here?” Gilgamesh asked. “It makes sense that you could not persuade the guards to let you remain in here to wait for me.”

“I plotted and stole your horns of the Bull of Heaven.”

Another laugh from the man, his hands roaming over her lower back. “You stole them right from Caster’s office, my minx. You did an excellent job, although he found you rather easily.”

“I left a note.”

He was so amused by that. She leaned her head back as the man nipped along her neck, snickering away. “A note. Of course you would. The man wouldn’t have found you otherwise. I would have, but him? No. He would have spent lifetimes trying to find you.”

“Mhmm.” His lips were making her body react, her stomach filled with a strange fluttering like sensation. One of his hands had slipped between her legs.

“I would have found you,” Gilgamesh told her again. The tone of his voice changed, turning more serious. Those fingers between her legs stroked something- something sensitive. “No matter who tries to take you from me, no matter how far they run, I will always find you. No one takes from me, especially you. Never again.”

“They’ll have to pry you from me then. I somehow doubt you’ll- ah- leave me alone.” Her face was burning. The man’s hands were doing something to her.

“You’re right about that. You forgot to make my bloody path though.”

He remembered her comment about being stolen from before? Hakuno shook her head. “I coughed up blood in the rayshift room.”

“Our enemies must have cleaned it up,” that sickly sweet voice was so close, so low. Her hands clutched at his shoulders, keeping a firm grip as the man continued to touch her. Those fingers were going between her legs deeper, slipping so close to inside her. Just one move, one change in his ministrations. She was left teetering on the edge of sanity and its opposite.

A knock came from somewhere behind them, a guard coming in with a servant behind.

“Your wine and chilled grapes, my king.”

The servant set the tray nearby, keeping their gaze averted. Gilgamesh’s fingers just continued despite their guests, his other hand moving to pick up the goblet and taking a sip.

“Suitable.” Gilgamesh looked back at them, a finger slipping inside her. A gasp left her lips as the king motioned them away. “Leave us. My woman requires my attentions. Refuse anyone else entrance, including my older self. I require time and isolation with my treasure.”

“Of course, my king.”

“Dismiss yourself from my queen as well,” Gilgamesh commanded.

“Gil-“

The man didn’t stop anything. His finger found somewhere inside of her, making her shift immediately in his arms. Everything seemed to freeze as he glanced her direction. Everything was too much. The finger inside her was joined by another, both finding that spot that made her body melt against him.

“I have not heard you bid my queen farewell,” Archer observed, looking over at the servant and guard. “I believe I commanded you, as your king, to dismiss yourself from my queen. I can assist you, I suppose, since your queen is taking the liberty of earning you my generous nature. Say something akin to, ‘Please our king well, dear queen.’”

The guard repeated the words without hesitation, bowing low as Hakuno bit her fist. She couldn’t respond to them. She wouldn’t be able to speak. The moans she was holding back would break free, letting them know what was happening.

“Servant. You as well,” Gilgamesh demanded.

“P-please our king well, d-dear queen,” the servant stuttered.

“Very good,” Archer praised. “Leave us.”

The two hurried from the room, closing it behind them. The moment the door closed, Hakuno moaned, giving in to it all.

“They called you queen, master.” Gilgamesh moved them deeper into the water, his goblet abandoned at the rim of the bath. “Does it please you? I could have them all call you that. I could make the entire city bow down in front of you.”

“I don’t need anything like that. I just want to keep my contract with you.”

His amusement was heard right by her ear. The finger left from inside her, hands going to a bottle nearby. “It is tempting to simply take you here in the water, but sex in a bath is unsuitable. I’ve heard nothing but complaints from women in that regard. Besides, I would prefer to watch you writhe in my bed.”

“Let’s go then.”

“Impatient.” A healthy amount of oil came out of the bottle, Gilgamesh’s hands going to her hair. “Pleasure requires patience, woman. We’re starting our lessons now.” His hands moved carefully, massaging at her scalp as she remained useless in his arms. Each movement of those fingers had him leaning further into his arms. Soon enough, her face was back against his chest. His heart was beating so close. So calm. So confident.

Her eyes drifted to the bottle nearby, opting soon enough to pouring some of the oils into her hand as well and reaching up to handle his hair as well. The golden strands glinted like gold before her,

“You can’t simply enjoy the attention I give without returning it, can you?”

“Does it bother you that greatly? You don’t seem like you dislike it.”

The man leaned back to grab his goblet and take a sip. “Rinse your hair. I am becoming impatient now.”

“Pleasure begins with patience.”

The man just raised a brow at her, drinking a little more as she shook her head. She delved below the waters, letting the oils rinse from her hair. Her body moved to Gilgamesh’s, her arms wrapping around his waist before she broke the surface.

“Open,” Gilgamesh told her. The grapes nearby were plucked one at a time, the king slipping them in between her lips. Wrapping her legs around his waist, her hands followed after his, stealing the grapes. Their cool smooth surface contrasted with his warm lips.

His hand caught hers after a while, watching her a moment before he stood up.

“We’re leaving?” Hakuno moved to stand up, climbing out of the water.

“Come with me.”

As though he needed to make that demand. Hakuno wrapped her hand around his, following after the man as they left the room and meandered down the hall. The halls lasted only long enough for her to remember their state of dress, trying to focus on things other than him.

They slipped around a doorway. The man’s arms wrapped around her waist, hoisting her up a moment before he tossed her atop a handful of furs. The sun was further in the distance outside, trying in vain to break into the room. She could only watch as the king moved onto the bed. His hands ran through his hair before coming to land on either side of her body. His manhood hung proudly erect.

Hakuno reached out without preamble, wrapping her hand around him.

“Damn, woman.”

That was a new response. Her eyes locked with his, noting the darker flecks in his eyes. She moved her fingers slowly along the length of him, watching him shiver before her.

“Hakuno…”

He was on her in a frenzy. Lips were connected with hers, air gone. She couldn’t focus now as his hands descended upon her chest, kneading and building her into a pile of emotions she was unable and unwilling to sort out.

“Keep stroking,” the man demanded against her.

Her hand moved quicker, sounds escaping her that she couldn’t possibly explain. The more he touched, the more she needed to be touched. She couldn’t keep it up. It was impossible with him touching her. Her hands abandoned his erection, wrapping around his shoulders as she found his face with her lips.

“Gil,” she breathed. Her legs spread apart.

“You’re not wasting time.” But his voice made the statement sound like a compliment. His face moved away from hers, mouth pressing against one of her breasts. Rather than doing what she wanted and getting inside her, his teeth grazed her nipple. The world around them went white.

Someone was moaning in the room like something lost and wanton. Each movement of the man’s mouth on her body made that voice hitch, sometimes almost sounding like his name. She was pretty sure that was her voice she was hearing. She wasn’t sure anymore. There needed to be more touch, more attention.

“Master,” Gilgamesh breathed against her skin. “Tell me what you want.”

“More,” that breathless and needy voice replied. Her face burned as she saw his smile.

His laugh echoed in the room, the room becoming too cold and too hot. It was cold where he didn’t touch. It was too hot where he did touch. Had she not been caught up in the motions, this kind of reaction would have her looking up for the Babylonian sun. Only the sun in this land had ever made her feel this weak, this overheated.

Once again, the man was like the very sun himself, shining and burning brighter than anything and everything else in the world. When Gilgamesh was present, there was nothing else.

“You have to tell me specifically what you want,” the golden demi-god proclaimed. “I will not touch you otherwise.”

Damn him. How could he be this sane? She wrapped her hand around his length once again. “I want… I want this inside me.”

Lips again, he swallowed the demands. Engulfed the senses until she was lost once more to the waves of feeling inside her. Maybe it was what he had given her that created this feeling inside her. Maybe it was the bath and its sensual oils. Perhaps it was just a side effect of being too close to him for too long.

Whatever the case, she drank in the pleasure greedily from his lips. She moved her legs closer to him, feeling his hands on her thighs once again. Her inner thighs were so warm beneath his touch. His grip was horribly firm as she felt a slickness between her legs. The more he held her open, the more she found herself losing a little more of her control.

All that control she had held onto for so long: Gone.

His lips were moving along her skin though, building the sensation of control loss. Every inch of her damn skin was screaming for more, screaming for him to just get on with it. She needed him to touch her more. What was even more at this point?

His mouth traced over every inch of her body, it seemed. His hands kneeded at her thighs, stroking so close to that core only to inch away at the last second. Like crashing waves that never reached that point, his touch left her wanting more.

Every second was another ache. Every minute, an hour of torment.

His name echoed from her lips time and time again, reverberating off the walls, released into the skies outside. She tried to grab him, but he pushed her hands away, taking his time with her.

“Say my name again,” he demanded.

He hardly had to ask. His name came even without the demands.

Something was building up within her, bubbling underneath her skin. Every second that the king focused upon her was another second that she found her body lightening. It felt like she could fly up towards the heavens if he didn’t do something to keep her here. It felt like she was going to reach a limit she had never reached before.

“Tell me again what you want,” the man purred.

What she wanted? Gods, she didn’t know what she wanted. She wanted whatever it was that he was doing to her. She wanted to remain right here, beneath his gaze, until the world just stopped existing. She wanted to remain in this room, without the worlds or their people interfering. She wanted to claw and bite at him until she could reach whatever breaking point he was getting her towards.

“Fuck me,” she told him simply.

Something slammed into her, sliding between her legs and inside of her before she could do anything more. The man didn’t wait, moving as though something had broken inside of him. The control that he had laughed and teased her with was gone. His hips pushing into and out of her with an urgency. Pain had streaked across her senses, but- well-

“More,” Hakuno encouraged. “I need more from you.”

Lips found hers again and she yanked at his hair, stealing away all the pleasure he could give her. Their bodies rolled for a moment, his body ending up on top of her once again after a brief second. Faster their bodies combined, his pounding this pleasure through her system.

Her voice was crying out again, but the sounds were swallowed again and again. His lips found hers, stealing her voice. He stole her air. He stole her sanity. He stole the world away, letting it slip like sand between her fingers.

Nothing mattered now.

Her body was here for him. Her mind and soul were calling out for the arrogant asshole.

Innocence gone, she demanded the pleasure she could find in his arms. She demanded everything, showering him in whatever attention she could manage. There was nothing that she wanted to do right now than give him anything he wanted. After so much time telling her what she was missing, she wanted to thank him. She wanted to worship him. Gods- She rained affections upon his face and neck. Her teeth bit down, testing the result.

The man’s face smoothed, a curse escaping him.

The precipice was right there, right within her reach. Her mind reached out for it, her body turning this way and that in the man’s arms. If she could just-

“Do you feel this,” Gilgamesh breathed, bringing one of her hands to where their bodies connected intimately. “Do you feel my feelings for you, my master? This is our bond now. I will never allow another to have this with you. Only I may see you when you break. Only I may have you this way.”

“Gil.”

His lips pressed against the skin just below her ear. “Come for me now.”

Her body spasmed passed that limit, everything fading into nothingness as his name echoed loudly in the space. She felt a warmth rush inside of her. She clamped her body around that heat, her body milking him for all he was worth.

The king roared before they fell to the sheets.

His arms wrapped around her.

She could love him. Nothing in the world could protect her from the main threat in her life. Loving such an arrogant man would be the death of her.

Chapter Text

Caster opened the door slowly, having required several minutes to move the bolt that had been set in place. Lancer had kept him distracted, describing a condensed version of the adventure of keeping Hakuno safe. For what had turned into hours, the man had blathered on, telling him all manner of complaints. The heat, Hakuno hogging the only bed in the house, Hakuno being as arrogant as his Archer self, the heat-

The man had enjoyed complaining.

More important from his story was the underlying problem. Yes, Cu Berserker and Lancer Bathory would require his attention soon enough.

Pausing, Caster could only feel his insides drop at the sight of his chambers.

The air in his bedchambers smelled of intercourse, the floors covered in water and abandoned furs. His curtains had been yanked from the sides of the bed, lying uselessly upon the floor with the rest of the abandoned items. A set of two bodies were intertwined upon the bed, the woman lying on top of the man with her breasts pressed around his arm.

Damn it, Archer.

The man knew nothing of subtlety. He had taken their master after mere hours of finding her. If that. He most likely would have simply fucked her on the ground outside if she had allowed him to.

The guards had been too wary with him when he had sent them away. Now it was obvious why.

Archer’s eyes opened slightly as he approached, his free arm wrapping around Hakuno’s body. He was always holding her. Everyone was, now that he was thinking about it. Another problem to add to his list. These other servants needed to understand who this woman belonged to.

“What is it?”

“You slept with our master,” Caster growled.

Archer grinned, closing his eyes once again. “I did. I really did. She was one hell of a virgin. Truly, nectar as sweet could never be created." His lips moved along her side, hands moving to cup of those breasts. "Her body will do me good. My little queen and her hesitation. It’s amusing to see her try to make demands of me. She tries to hold back still, but I’ll work her over soon enough.”

“She needed to rest,” Caster argued. “After speaking to Cu Chulainn-“

“He knows nothing of my master,” Gilgamesh Archer replied simply. “She is fine. I know her limits. She is nowhere near them.”

Spoken like the arrogant idiot that he was.

“Send the guards for foods,” Archer commanded, waving a hand. “Something sensual again. I wish to seduce my master again before her body has time to question my claim upon it.”

“Hand me Hakuno. You’ve lost your privileges to her body for the time being.” He held out his arms. “She needs rest. Time to recover her energy.”

“Fuck off,” the man began, stopping in his insults as Hakuno moved in her sleep. He didn’t speak for a moment, just waiting to see if she would do something. His eyes drifted over to him soon. “I am giving her my energy.”

Oh yes, all the energy he had barely been able to get back in the few hours he had been contracted with a master again. Such energy to share, indeed.

“Gil,” the plain little master murmured.

“Hakuno, you need to sleep.” The archer deflated, pulling the furs over them both without delay. Rolling to face the opposite way with Hakuno against his side, Archer settled back in.

“Archer,” Caster hissed at him, earning a dismissive wave.

The damn idiot was going to hurt her at this rate. He had not chosen for her to stay with his archer self just because they had enjoyed some time together prior to Chaldea. The man had been needing to bring her back, bathe her, tuck her into bed, and then come to discuss the situation at present.

Now that he was seeing what a useless shit his archer self was, there was no choice. He had promised Lancer that he wouldn’t be long, but the man would simply need to wait. He needed to act, not worry about a mongrel elsewhere.

He held no aspirations for gaining an acquaintanceship of any depth with the lancer anyway.

“Move over,” Caster demanded, removing his clothes.

“What are you doing?”

“She is my master and needs me at this moment,” Caster replied. “Since you believe that mana transfers are required, I will hold her as well and be ready in case she requires more than what you can provide.”

“Damn you, Caster.”

He simply ignored the Archer’s curse, wrapping his arms around the woman and pressing his lips to her forehead. Those deep brown eyes were flickering open, cheeks gaining a dusting of pink.

Archer was growling nearby as Caster leaned over the woman, lips pressing to hers just barely. They were just close enough to be felt. Just beyond enjoyment, but close enough that the feel of them could be appreciated.

Her hands moved, wrapping around his neck.

“Don’t tease me,” the woman murmured.

“MASTER!”

She reached out an arm to the disgruntled Archer, her lips pulling back from her kiss to turn and pull the man in enough to kiss as well. Her body was angled awkwardly between them, barely able to hold on to the Archer.

They were the same in the end. Caster watched the woman giving herself to his archer self, the man selfishly taking what he could get. He could understand the feeling.

She was theirs, only theirs.

Anyone else who tried to claim what was theirs would end up dead immediately or suffering a slow and painful demise. Anyone that tried to harm her would end the same way. Berserker and Bathory would end that way when they were through with them.

They wouldn’t feel Enkidu’s death and the pain associated with that again.

“You would have me share you with another me,” Archer complained lightly. “Such a needy thing you are, Hakuno.”

“Gil,” Hakuno breathed, looking up at him from beneath those thick lashes of hers. “I’m kissing you right now.”

The man grunted, hands burying themselves into her hair. “Just the two of us with you then.” He was closer again, practically climbing onto her to claim her for himself and only himself. Caster’s lips went to her stomach, trailing a path lower. The oils of the bath she had no doubt taken were still able to be discerned. Sweet smells of crushed water blooms lay beneath the smell of the lovemaking.

The woman let out a whimper, body quaking from the assault to the senses.

“Just focus on me,” Archer purred. “I am the only thing you need to be seeing right now.”

“Caster…”

She couldn’t call forth for him any further than that, lips stolen by the golden archer. Still, Caster couldn’t help but grin against her lower belly. The archer would never be able to have her to himself alone. She loved them both in the end.

Rewards were in order. Caster moved his lips lower yet, watching the woman jump in their arms as his hands reached her thighs and his mouth reached her center. He moved his tongue inside; his first taste of perfect pleasure and lust.

“G-Gil… Gil please… Please…”

“Are you begging me?” Gilgamesh Archer beamed at the very sound of his master’s calls. Those hands stroked at her cheeks, forehead against hers as Caster glanced up her body. Seeing his own self’s manhood erect and in the way was a nuisance, but he could accept it as he saw the woman’s face in awe.

“Gil…”

“I approve of this,” the man hummed, smiling down at the woman. “Say my name endlessly, master. Demand from me all that you are capable of thinking up, until all you can do is drown in my very essence. I want to see you plead with me for the very world in my arms.”

She just moaned, falling apart at his demands. Or perhaps it was the spot Caster found within her. He lapped at it again, holding her legs for all he was worth.

Each time he touched that spot, her body convulsed a little more. She squirmed and cried out, face and limbs trapped in place by the two of them.

This was about making sure she would never look away from them.

He could recognize the same goal in Archer’s mind that was in his own. They wanted to ensure that she would only come to them for this. They wanted to ensure that whenever they touched her, she would curl into their arms. It would be only them that she thought of when she thought of safety and home. These arms, between the two of them, were where she belonged.

The pet name for them escaped her lips again as the Archer let her breathe for the first time in a while.

Hoarsely, Archer spoke to her, “Your heart is beating so fast, master. Are we too much for your body to handle?” He moved his hands lower, tracing a path to each of her breasts. “I don’t think this is enough. I don’t think this is nearly enough. I can provide so much more.”

“Gil… Gil, don’t… don’t stop…”

“I wasn’t planning on it.”

Wetness hit his face the moment that Gilgamesh pressed his lips to one of her breasts. Caster shut his eyes, enjoying the moment before he slipped a finger inside of her, stroking his newfound spot inside her body. He sucked on her clit, letting her cries echo into the room.

The entire climax overwhelmed her, driving her to the brink of madness.

Her hands clung to the sheets, body going limp on them both.

Archer looked back at him, licking his lips a moment before Caster froze. The man’s hands gripped his own, pulling him close until their lips were pressed together. Demanding, unforgiving lips and tongue stole the taste of the woman under them from his mouth. He found his eyes closing at Archer’s movements, his hands wrapping around the man’s head.

He had never imagined doing this with himself. His tongue moved with the other's, tasting the lingering taste of fine wine and Hakuno from him. His hands wandered from the archer, finding one of the woman's breasts below. The soft, plump thing fit his hands. Oversized, but a welcomed size no less. He pulled away from the other's lips, eager to try to taste that instead.

Archer's hum of pleasure was unmistakable as Caster took over pleasuring the upper half of Hakuno's person. His eyes drifted up to hers, noting the glazed over look and squirming beneath him.

The other had been right. She was trying to hold back on them.

Truly unacceptable.

“You taste sweet, Hakuno,” Archer told the woman under him. “I could dine upon your juices rather than my finest wine any given day.”

She just burned, blushing up a storm below him as she stared up at them.

Caster found himself laughing, nodding to the statement. “I will happily accept the position between your legs so long as I can continue to enjoy the tastes of your pleasure, Hakuno.”

They needed to spend the whole day like this, exploring their master and her body to the fullest extent.

“I’ll accept any position so long as I get in at some point on this.”

They all froze, Archer and Caster both covering Hakuno’s body immediately at the sound of the lancer in the room. Cu Chulainn leaned against the doorway, arms crossed as he watched them.

“C-Cu.”

Hakuno’s meek voice was drowned by the two golden kings hissing towards the man.

“No one is allowed in these chambers,” they both growled.

“Hakuno is my master. Where she is, I should remain close… not quite close enough for my taste though, if what you both were telling her is true.” That grin was pissing him off. Archer was no doubt in the same boat with this.

“Get out,” Archer demanded.

“Peace, king,” Cu Chulainn replied. “I wanted to let you all get up already so we can discuss what to do about Berserker and Bathory.”

“What about them?” Archer sat up, tossing one of the lion skins onto Hakuno’s body as Caster moved aside.

“They were the ones that got us into this mess,” Hakuno answered weakly. Face burning, the woman moved to sit up. Her back available, Caster pulled her to his chest, feeling that smooth skin against his own. Such a pale thing, she was.

Archer’s eyes narrowed.

“Bathory is still in the area, isn’t she?”

“We got away from her and I couldn’t find her later,” Lancer replied. “We were preoccupied with the theft in progress. Oh! Speaking of which.” The man pulled a bag from his back, tossing it onto the bed. “Horns. Probably shouldn’t have those outside the palace much longer than necessary, aye?”

Caster was the one who brought about the gates of Babylon beneath the bag, letting it fall into the vault. “We shouldn’t.”

“Have you seen Berserker?” Archer looked between them all.

“He just pushed me into the transporting chamber and sent Lancer and I here. I saw him earlier, but I poisoned him.”

Archer shook his head. “So he’s probably back in Chaldea? Useless mongrel.”

“Gudako should be informed,” Caster pointed out. “She won’t take the news well.”

“Unless she told him to do it.” Archer glanced over at him.

A moment of silence came from that. The argument was fair. Gudako was known for being… favorite oriented. As much as he would like to deny that Gudako would do such a thing, their master favored Mash over all of them. At times, she sided with servants and against others. The summer times she wandered out with the others were a clear sign of that. She had sided on the side that was triumphing over all else.

If one of the servants in Chaldea provided a good argument against Hakuno.

The woman looked between them, trying to read the mood probably. Her face was a clear indication of questions, worries; she didn’t want to cause trouble. She never wanted to cause trouble. Thinking through her actions, it only made sense. She remained loyal to Archer through it all. She stole the horns, something that would only affect him. Not the city.

She had a contract with Lancer. If she had wanted to cause trouble, she could have easily destroyed the marketplace or taken over the palace. Instead, she had simply stolen away the horns and went to wait. She had left a note for him to understand.

“We should talk to Gudako.” Cu Chulainn moved to stand properly. “Even if she had, she won’t risk anything. There’s too many of us-“

“She has far more servants, mongrel.”

“Too many of us with power to go up against,” Lancer finished. “She won’t fight Ozymandias or you both. She won’t like the idea of it.”

“She’s fought against us all at times before. Nero’s festival. When you went to the island of women that one time.” Archer shook his head, hands moving over Hakuno’s legs. “We should force her here.”

“You think that won’t cause trouble?”

“Oh, it would, but I happen to not give a damn.” Archer’s smile promised a thousand other thoughts. No doubt, he was prepared to bring their opposition down around them to beat them all down. He wouldn’t think twice about sacrificing the city if it meant he met his goals. Not when the city felt separate from him.

“I think we should just go back to Chaldea.” Hakuno looked between them all. “We can plan it carefully. I’m sure Ozymandias and Nitocris are wondering where you all are.”

“They’ll only be worried about you,” Caster replied.

She sighed. “It’ll be easier to fight there too. You have too many citizens here in Uruk to think about. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. A few guards were almost harmed when Bathory attacked. I don’t want that to happen again.”

Before he could say a thing, Archer was climbing into her lap, his hands wrapping around her head to pull her in close. Seeing yourself kissing someone, touching them for something that they do that was remarkably precious; it was a conflicting feeling. Caster couldn’t deny that he had felt the desire to do the same with the woman, but Archer was not entirely him. He was stronger. He was more temperamental.

There were not enough words being said to her for that statement. The man relied far too much on actions, far too much on what was unspoken.

But the woman curved into his body like the finest wine in a bottle, curling right where she belonged. Her gaze remained on his as she nodded, expression nothing less than determined.

“We can gather our group and talk about what to do when we reach Chaldea. I’ll meet with Gudako to talk about things and we can be right where everything dear to her is. If she is against us, then we’ll fight our way out. We’ve fought our way out before. We can do it again.”

“Your magic circuits can only do so much at one time,” Lancer pointed out.

Hakuno merely nodded. “I know, but with Ozymandias and Nitocris, we’ll have more than enough strength. We could maybe get Cu Caster to join us, couldn’t we?”

Her eyes went to him at that. She made it seem like Cu Caster was his friend. Although, the Casters in Chaldea had almost all decided that he was their rightful leader. A natural feeling, when one was a king of immense power.

If he needed to, he could have Medea sever contracts and the Casters take control of some of the servants. He had possessed a few himself when he had first met Gudako.

This was what he had prepared for with his experiments.

Caster simply grinned. “I know a handful of Casters that would leap at the chance to assist me with a possible uprising. Gudako feels very poorly about Casters as offense.”

“That’s because they’re the weakest kind of servant,” Archer pointed out. “I can’t think of a single way they’re useful for anything other than healing and being in the way.”

Archer was terribly naïve.

Hakuno found his lips again, distracting the man away from his words. The man was truly more tolerable when he was not talking. She had the right idea… almost.

Falling for his Archer self: A fate for only the stoutest of souls.

“Alright.” Lancer grinned, “So we’re going to stir up Chaldea? I think I know a few servants that would move to assist us as well. My mentor for one.”

“Only if Gudako told them to attack though,” Hakuno reminded them. “We don’t know that Bathory and Cu Berserker were told to attack and send us here. Bathory used to work with BB after all. Also, Cu Berserker said that BB was still around. I think we need to be careful with what we do.”

Archer just winced at her cryptic statement.

They didn’t know that Gudako was responsible, but…

Caster looked over at Lancer as Archer coddled the damn woman, complaining about something or other.
Cu Berserker had been close to Gudako for a couple months. He had been defeated when Jeanne, Gilgamesh Archer, Gawain, and Raikou had gone to the singularity with Hakuno in it. The man had been glued to their master at times, refusing to do anything other than what she ordered.

No, if he had acted, there had been some order behind it. Gudako had been threatened by Hakuno somehow.

“Master,” Archer’s voice pulled him from his thoughts, the man still seducing and teasing the poor woman. “Even if you are considering more servants, bear in mind that you belong to me. I won’t allow another servant permanently at your side.”

Caster narrowed his gaze, tightening his hold on the woman’s waist. “She is ours.”

“All of ours,” Lancer pointed out. Both of them looked over at the man as he shrugged, grinning. “I bonded. Kill me.”

“Remember he told me to, Hakuno,” Archer was moving to stand, being stopped as Hakuno rushed forward.

“DON’T! We need him! Damn it, guys. Stop it. I don’t need owned. I need to just have a home.”

What a simple demand. Both he and Archer replied together. “You are home.”

“This is your home,” Hakuno pointed out. “I just need somewhere to call my own. Nothing else. I have Archer and I am alive with all of my memories. I can’t ask for anything else.”

“Such a simple mongrel,” Archer complained, turning his gaze to hers.

Caster was already moving though, pulling her into his arms and pulling the lion skin over her body a little more. “You are home, my master. What is mine is yours. I intend to ensure you understand your place in this world soon enough. I had hoped to prepare things further.”

There were wives to cast away to their home kingdoms and to houses away from the palace. Enemies to destroy quickly before he could simply place the woman in his bed and spend eternity with her. They could go to the land of the gods when time ceased to be in this world. There would be grand beds there to roll around in.

“What Caster is saying,” Archer drawled, “is that you belong to me. This land is mine. Therefore, you and my lands go together. Once Caster removes the unwanted odds and ends,” he gave a meaningful look his way. They were both thinking of useless women whoring themselves out as wives of him and embodiment of goddesses. “Once those are gone, I can continue my fun with you here.”

“Or we could go see universes like we had planned,” Hakuno countered.

Archer shrugged, grinning. “Or that. I have no land that requires babysitting.”

Damn him!

“Caster is a great king,” Hakuno pointed out. “I just- I don’t know what we should do now. Let’s figure things out with Gudako first. We can plan the future then.”

Chapter Text

“Hakuno,” Caster complained as both he and Archer had their arms crossed and stared at her. “I don’t understand what the issue is.”

Hakuno just stared up at them, arms crossed as the two continued to remain steadfast. Her wrists and neck were coated in jewelry, a few more bangles hanging from her ankles as a couple of servants continued to work more nonsense into her hair.

“She’s stubborn,” Archer pointed out. “I have tried everything in my power since finding her again. You know she wore a simple brown uniform for a while when I was her only servant?”

“Did you progress her wardrobe slowly into appropriate attire?”

“She would have been stubborn. I tried a more all or nothing tactic. You see how stubborn she is.”

“Archer…” She would at least give him some response, seeing as the man would not take the obvious hint. They were supposed to be preparing to go back to Chaldea. A few clothes or weapons were acceptable. They weren’t sure what kind of response they were going to get when they returned. Naturally, she wanted them to be prepared for fighting or defending at the very least.

Rather than that, the two had summoned in servants, packing her a collection of clothing she would never wear so long as she had her wits as well as sending a half dozen servants in to dress her. That mission had turned into a fight. For no other reason than the two were no doubt looking to spar.

“Where’s the clothing that Lancer got me?” She asked them.

“Did Lancer retrieve you clothing?”

Archer scoffed as the Caster asked that so naively, “He has no taste, Hakuno. I had the garments of Ereshkigal burned. Had anyone actually assumed you were a maiden of her temple, they would have tried touching or making demands of you. I cannot imagine having to destroy my own kingdom simply because one of them deemed you were nothing more than a prostitute.”

Oh, she was not going to mention what had already been done. Ereshkigal already had work to do in repairing her temple after Cu Berserker got to it. Rather, she focused on what was actually important.

“Gilgamesh,” Hakuno growled. “How am I supposed to fight with all this on?”

The two men blinked. “You aren’t.”

Simultaneous. Point blank.

She began pulling off the jewelry immediately.

“Master-“ Caster rushed forward, stopping her hands as Archer laughed incessantly. The golden Archer simply moved to sit nearby, enjoying the view as his mage self pinned her hands to the bed and motioned the servants away. “It cannot be helped, Hakuno. The attire that you were dressed in is too simplistic. You’re returning from being tricked. We want to give the right impression.”

“And that would be?“

Archer answered that. “That you rose up in Babylon and are far too great a master to be done in. You’ll return with the assumption being that you were welcomed into the palace for no other reason than for being strong.” Archer poured himself a healthy goblet and grinned. “Which would have happened anyway had Lancer not been so persuasive in getting a contract with you.”

“He-“

Archer winked at her, sipping from his wineglass. “We’ll talk about how you can make that up to me later.”

“Arch-“

“Focus here,” Caster commanded, tilting her face in his direction. His fingers stroked along her cheek. “Ignore my archer self for a moment and allow me to sooth your anxiety. What I am asking of you is to allow me and what is mine to spoil you. Just slightly. I want no one in Chaldea to doubt our claim. And you do want to claim us, don’t you?”

The other’s red eyes were glued to her at that question.

“You’re my servants,” she told them simply. Her hands drifting tenderly down his arm to hold his hand. “I will do whatever I need to do to make sure that they know I respect and appreciate your contract with me.”

Caster just smiled, raising her hands up to his lips. “And that is close to what I want to hear, my little master. What’s more, you have been claimed by both of us. We have a right to spoil that which we claim. When we return, you need to be seen as someone who is not able to be stepped upon, but rather- someone who is as powerful as we are.”

“…Fine. They can finish.” It wasn’t worth arguing. The two men were going to do what they wanted to do no matter what she tried to argue. They would end up forcing her into a corner and getting their way anyway.

“Excellent. You’re beginning to see things my way,” Archer stood up, moving over to her side and leaning forward. His lips pressed against hers. “I knew I could mold you closer to what I would expect of a master. Pleasure suits you. Since you’re being amicable, I can have Lancer brought back in and we can contact Chaldea while you are finishing up with being dressed.”

“What… What do you mean, you can have Lancer brought back in? Where’s Lancer?” The man hadn’t mentioned something that had gotten him into trouble had he?

Of course she could see him doing just that. He had no idea how to keep his mouth shut. He complained too much and joked too much.

Caster moved to stand immediately. “I’ll contact Chaldea.”

“Archer!” Hakuno moved to stand, frowning at how heavy all the jewelry was. The two men with her made their attire and jewels look light in comparison. “Where’s Lancer?!”

“He’s fine,” Archer replied. “We just didn’t need him intruding.”

Her waist was caught the moment the next selection of servants came in, Caster’s hold on her firm as Archer began to direct them on what he wanted done for her. Somehow, the descriptions were very particular, leaving out nothing in detail.

“Caster,” Hakuno looked up. “If Lancer is harmed…”

“He is fine. The man is simply being kept busy with training alongside the palace guards. We decided after speaking with him a moment that he was suited to… waiting. The mongrels will keep the mutt busy.” Caster grinned at her, “But don’t fret on his account. What’s important is that you are-“

“Stop. I don’t want to hear it.” Hakuno shook her head at the man. She didn’t need this. She was ready to pull off everything and simply return with a sheet around her body. The two men were going overboard with this.

“Hakuno,” Caster’s voice pulled her from the start towards some very anxious thoughts. “I need you to realize that you are not to contract with anyone when we reach Chaldea. No matter what they say, Archer and I agreed on this. No more servants.”

“What I have with Lancer is temporary.”

“And that’s good, but you’re our master and we’re not planning to allow sharing of any kind further. It’s enough that Archer and I must share.” Caster motioned at Archer as he argued with one of the servants. “Look at him. You have deigned me to keep you and withstand his endless childish behavior without complaint.”

Heaven forbid if Caster ever complained.

Caster continued on, “and what’s more, you have Ozymandias and Nitocris looming close when we’re in Chaldea. They will be even more adamant the moment you return with Lancer at your side. Ozymandias has been having his sphynxes and the Medjed hunt for you for over a week.”

“I would have-“

“No need for defense. We will discuss the situation and how to soothe and push away Ozymandias and Nitocris at a later time.”

The servants moved away from Archer, surrounding them as Caster’s arms released her. Yet again, there was nothing to do but stand in place, waiting for the endless poking and draping to end. Each time the servants grew to close to her scalp, Hakuno found herself holding her breath.

One wrong expression and the two kings would never let the poor servant hear the end of it.

“Be sure to get Lancer in one piece,” Hakuno told the two, finding herself ushered onto the bed so she could have sandals strapped to her legs and feet.

The two kings merely waved their hands to her dismissively, murmuring to one another quietly.

Chapter Text

Rayshifting was, for lack of better phrasing, a royal pain in the ass. The jewelry on her chest grew cold for the full minute it took to teleport to the room. Her body ached as she was suddenly thrown from the ever sunny and ever blisteringly hot Babylon city to the chilly and sterile looking rayshifting room. Along with that, somehow it felt like she was using more mana in Chaldea. Around her, the servants appeared in their usual regalia.

Archer was once more standing with his hair spiked up, his golden armor gleaming brightly from his body. The mere look of him was nothing more than magnificence, filling the room and everyone with the sense of power and ego that dripped from his every poor. His eyes and face, unrelenting in their surveying of the area, held signs of his amusement at the situation.

To his left stood Lancer, once more returned to his blue armor. His armor, unlike Archer’s, was lightweight, more like a jumpsuit than anything. Before they had shifted, Hakuno had pressed a hand to it. Just to see what it was like.

The growls that she had earned from both Gilgamesh Archer and Caster had ended up making Lancer chuckle. His voice had been low enough for her to just barely hear as he leaned down to her. “It’s hard like many other things, woman.”

Her hands were staying far away from here on out. Lesson learned.

The lancer stood proudly next to Archer though, arms on his hips as they reached their destination. His long hair was over one shoulder, lance in hand but almost like he was holding it for pleasure.

And then there was Caster.

The man had his vest and slitted pants in place, but wore more. The jewelry that hung from his chest seemed to match hers. They were no doubt designed together.

“Gilgamesh. Cu Chulainn.” A young brunette walked in, frowning at them all. “What’s this?”

“It would seem,” Archer stated, “That someone found it appropriate to toss my master into a singularity.”

“That’s not possible, Gilgamesh.” The woman shook her head. “The only time that this room was used was when Gudako was doing training a few weeks back. Just some things with Nursery Rhyme and Kid Gilgamesh. There wouldn’t have been anyone needing to be in here.”

“If you’ll all excuse me,” Lancer moved around them. “I’m going to eat. I need some real food. Da Vinci.” He nodded at the woman as he walked passed, leaving the door open behind himself.

“Well?” Caster nudged at her. “We should get moving, don’t you think, Hakuno?”

Da Vinci- as Cu Chulainn had called her- looked down at her, frowning as she nodded.

“Right. Let’s-“

“MASTER!”

The room became blanketed in white. Or maybe it was just the cloak that covered her eyes as the man rushed the room and overwhelmed her. The necklaces around her neck and bracelets around her wrists clinked and jingled as she was enveloped, swallowed up in the pharaoh’s arms.

“You found my wife,” the man breathed, his body pressed against her tightly. His lips pressed against her cheeks, her neck. “Praise my fellow kings, your hunting skills are truly second to only my own.”

“Release her, Ramses,” Archer’s voice demanded. “I won’t ask again.”

“I was concerned for you,” Ozymandias told her, his face so close she could feel his warm breath on her skin. “When I found you had vanished, my heart stopped once again. I have learned that it is unacceptable to lose sight of you.”

“Ozymandias,” Caster’s voice this time was giving the warning.

“Nitocris has assisted me in finding you a larger room to reside in. The sphynx have lamented your disappearance while you were away.”

She would argue. It was on the tip of her tongue to do so, but the man was everywhere. She could hardly breathe let alone complain.

“She is not supposed to even be in Chaldea,” Da Vinci’s voice argued.

“If my wife is not to be here, then neither am I.” Her body was lifted into his arms, the complaint rising up was stopped as her body hit his shoulder. He was built like a rock. The king moved forward towards the door. “None shall take her from where she belongs. And that is within sight of me!”

“Archer! Caster!”

Finally, she could get something out.

Archer was following after, pushing Da Vinci aside as he gave chase. When she moved to follow, she was stopped, Caster’s focus directing towards stopping her pursuit.

“Pharaoh,” Archer growled. “Put my woman down this instant!”

“This is mine-“

“I have already claimed her. Body and soul. What you have is fond memories and a similar personality.” Her hand wrapped around Archer’s.

Ozymandias looked up at her and she nodded, blushing slightly.

“We um… Well-“

“It’s no matter,” the brunet replied, shaking his head. “You were overwhelmed. Lost and scared. Vulnerable. I will not blame you. You may praise me as appropriate later. But remain away from her from here on out, Gilgamesh.”

“Excuse me-“

“I will overlook your heinous touching of my woman, but not again. The joy of having her back in my arms is charitable enough to have me overlook your baser instincts and their resulting actions on your part.”

Her hold on the golden king tightened.

“Come along, my master. We will adorn you in proper clothing and pass the time with our own people and creatures. As I informed you already, the sphynx have been most depressed.”

“Ozy, I-“

Archer didn’t give the man a moment to even consider conversation. They all were going. Ozymandias holding her over one shoulder. The golden king fast on their heels. Much like before with Archer and Saber, now the Rider and Archer was going for it. Weapons clashed in front of them, earning the pharaoh’s need to pay attention ahead of them.

“Ozy!” Hakuno tried to say something, but a quick turn had her stomach hitting his shoulder hard. She gripped his cloak tightly, looking up for Gilgamesh only to catch sight of something along one of the hallways. A lump of white sat by the window in the corner of the hall. As she called out for Gilgamesh, she saw the thing move, its green hair pulling back. Her mouth opened, eyes widening as she saw a flawless face starting to appear. And then, it was gone. They had turned the corner and a flicker of gold showed the Archer had taken a short cut in another hallway.

“This has gone on long enough,” Ozymandias roared.

A stream of light burst through the hall, the cane lifting from one of the pharaoh’s hands barely giving her time to duck and hide her face. Even then, she could feel the light as it illuminated everything.

No doubt the damn light was blinding. Gilgamesh’s cry of pain echoed in her ears.

But she couldn’t see him when she looked up. Further and further, rounding corners and ducking into smaller hallways. Hakuno found herself holding on tight, lest she fall right over or onto the floor. Gilgamesh’s chase of them was now accompanied by the clanging and banging that could only come from him tearing down doors.

And then Ozymandias slipped into a door, bolting it shut and grinning as the sounds passed.

“Praise be to Ra,” Ozymandias purred.

Finding the floor once again, Hakuno looked up and felt the pharaoh pull her close. His cheek pressed to hers gently. He pulled back and she remained still.

“I will confess, my kitten, that I had no idea whether you would be alive when I found you. I prayed many bargains towards the gods for your safe return.”

His eyes were liquid gold as he looked down at her, thumbs stroking along her shoulders now.

“Did you suffer?” He asked.

“N-No. Cu Chulainn, I mean, Lancer took care of me until Gilgamesh Caster and Archer found me.”

“What got you into the rayshift room?”

Lines, just barely discernable, adorned his features, tightening his expression. His narrowed eyes and furrowed brow left little doubt what he was feeling. His hands were gripping her so much…

There was little else to do in this position. She cupped his face in her hands and shook her head at him, “It was Cu Berserker. He threatened me with his lance until I was in the rayshift room and sent me to Uruk. Thankfully, Lancer followed after me to see what was going on.”

There had been a flash of green then too. She made a mental note to think about that more later. The thing that had appeared wasn’t just her body being exhausted and hallucinating.

“We will handle him in due time,” Ozymandias murmured.

“I need to get back to Gilgamesh.”

“You can stay with me.” She was ushered with that towards the bed in the room, wrapping in a nearby blanket before the pharaoh was moving to a door nearby. “It is only right, after all. Your time has been taken over by the Babylonian king. We can correct this matter now.”

“You hardly know me.”

The man was pulling a sphynx into his arms, another half dozen speeding into the room around his ankles.

“Here we are.” The pharaoh grinned, walking over to her. “They missed you. As much as you have enjoyed your time spent with the king of heroes, the sphynx have mourned the seconds that you were away.”

Hakuno’s eyes drifted to the sphynx in her arms, the stitched scar on its side unmistakable.

“It’s healed.”

“Yes, it has.” Ozy moved to settle at her side, leaning against her shoulder. “I have taken to holding that one in particular while you were away. It cries sometimes, you see.”

“Was it in pain or-“

He pushed her hair back, scratching at the sphynx’s head lightly with his other hand. A strange sound emanated from its body, something like the gentle hum of a machine.

Ozy’s smile expanded, “it purrs so loudly, my kitten.”

“You keep calling me that.”

“Kitten?” The man chuckled. “I call you so because you are my kitten.”

“Ozy-“

“You’ve found favor for the king of heroes. I understand. Time alone, taking in his qualities in both good and bad- You found preference.”

She couldn’t exactly argue that she had been given time with the man. She had been given the chance to find preference for the king. The more time she had been around the king, the more she had felt close to the king. They had bonded because of that time together.

But she had been given time with Cu Chulainn and felt nothing. They were friends.

“Ozymandias-“

“You may call me Ramses. Those whom I deem suitable do so as well.”

“Ramses.” Hakuno looked up at him, holding the small creature in her arms closer. “I was attacked earlier by Bathory and Cu Berserker. Gil Caster and Archer think that Gudako might be upset or be retaliating against me for her losing servants.”

“Let us discuss this later-“

“I need to get back to Gilgamesh Archer-“

“Hakuno,” the pharaoh held her hands in his own, leaning in close. “You do not realize how much you resemble my Nefertari. My wife loved the sphynx as you do. She was gentle and protective of what was hers. So quiet.” He leaned closer. “Everything you do, every gentle argument you put forth to me, my kitten, is exactly as she would have done. There is no doubt in my mind. There wasn’t from the moment your eyes strayed towards Caster. My wife did the same for me.”

“I’m not your wife.“

“Oh no?” Ozymandias’ eyes gleamed, hands stroking hers gently. “Perhaps you lack the memory of treating a lost baby bird in the same manner that you treated the sphynx you saved. You fed it for days, fretting nonstop until it learned how to fly and found its family.”

At her silence, the pharaoh simply beamed.

“You are my master. In spirit and soon enough in all manners. I will keep you safe.”

She wasn’t his wife though. She would need to prove she wasn’t, but…

Right now, with her under fire and in danger from Gudako, she needed protection. And that was what the king would do. That’s what he had said. She needed to remain close to servants and Ozymandias was unparalleled in his power… second to Gilgamesh, anyway.

“I will need to face Gudako. I’m going to have to talk to her and it might lead to a fight.”

“You will not be harmed or attacked.”

“Thank you, Ozy…” At his look, she sighed. “Ramses.”

“Look upon me, my kitten,” Those golden eyes peered straight into her soul, his hold so warm. “You praise with your eyes. It’s unlike anything other than what one who is mine would do. No matter what concerns arise, you are mine to protect.”

“I need to get back to Archer, Ramses.”

“Do you doubt that I can protect you?”

“I don’t. I just,” she needed to word things carefully. He wasn’t going to see reason right now. “As much as I would like to spend time to talk to you, I don’t want to be away from Gilgamesh Archer and Caster. If my servants get attacked and I can’t do anything to help them, then what use am I as a master?”

That, unlike her former arguments, reached him. The pharaoh sighed. “I can take you to see him.”

“Thank you, Ramses.”

“Of course,” the man kissed her temple, pulling her slowly to her feet. “Keep one of the sphynx with you for now though. I want to have them near you in case of danger. They are strong in their own way. Your body feels weaker than usual.”

“I used a lot of magic in Babylon.” That and her body was probably still recovering from whatever BB had done. She wasn’t ready for fighting or defending herself right now. That was why the servants were so important. Why Gilgamesh was losing his mind in chasing them.

“We will have Nitocris look at the magic circuits that you have. She will be able to repair whatever is wrong.”

“Later, maybe. I haven’t really rested in a while. I want to check on Gilgamesh and talk to Caster.”

The man nodded, undoing his cloak and wrapping it around her shoulders. “I will remain close, my kitten.”

Once again, she was returned to the sterile hallways, navigating down the hallways until they appeared before the most familiar one. Gilgamesh and Caster were both in Archer’s room as they opened the door, Caster holding a towel to Archer’s eyes.

“Hakuno.” Caster sighed. “I was wondering what was going on. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine. What’s-“

“The light blinded his eyes. I sedated him so I could have some peace while helping him.” His eyes must have hurt greatly. Hakuno moved into the room, settling at the king’s side and moving the cloth out of the way.

“Was he-“

“He’ll be fine, Hakuno.”

That may be, but it looked like it hurt.

“He shouldn’t have been trying to steal away such time from my master and I,” Ozymandias declared. His lips pressed against Hakuno’s cheek. “I’ll come around in a bit with Nitocris. If anyone can help with your magic circuits, it is a knowledgeable pharaoh caster. Until then, please do not leave here without your sphynx.”

Caster merely raised a brow as the pharaoh left the room, closing the door behind himself.

“...I reasoned out that I needed to be here with you,” Hakuno told him.

“Did you tell him that you weren’t his departed wife?”

She nodded, “but he’s not a great listener.”

“He’s a bastard.” The man being treated on the bed growled lightly, making them both jump. “I couldn’t see a damn thing after that flash of light.”

“Let me see, I’ll do what I can-“

“Don’t bother, master.” Archer wrapped an arm around her waist, “simply remain with me and I will heal.”

She almost wanted to forget about what was going on and simply cuddle against the man. He was a horrible influence. Cu Chulainn had been onto something when he had warned her about him. Still, it felt like her body was whole when she was near him.

“We’re supposed to be planning,” Caster complained.

The sphynx wasted no time in climbing onto the golden archer, curling up on his chest and remaining still. Most likely, it had decided to take a nap. The king growled at it, shifting only for the beast’s golden claws to come out in warning.

“Hakuno,” Archer’s voice was filled with malice. “Remove it.”

“I don’t think it wants me to.”

Caster coughed, standing up carefully. “Hakuno. I know you wish to watch over Archer while he… recovers from our visit with Ozymandias, but I’m going to take the liberty of going to talk to Cu Caster and a few others. Lancer sends his regards from doing so as well. However, that leaves Archer who is incapacitated. We may need to consider having you spend the evening with Ozymandias and Nitocris.”

“You want me to stay with them?”

That was strange.

Caster shook his head, motioning at the room.

“We have already learned that others can get to you in here. With Archer’s sight down, it’s not safe for him to fight. What’s more, my room was destroyed in an effort to find you and in Archer’s frustrations-“

“Pick another room then,” Archer growled. “I don’t want Ramses near-“

“Gaining Ozymandias’ support right now is not only an interesting notion, but a highly profitable recommendation.” Caster shook his head. “It’s one night. He won’t do anything untoward. He gave her a fleabag to watch over her.”

“It’s a sphynx,” Hakuno reminded him.

Archer’s grip tightened on her sides, almost painful in their hold.

“Archer, as much as I don’t want to give her up to someone else to watch, we need to think about safety right now. We still need to meet with other servants. We can do so faster with entrusting-“

“Lancer can,” Archer told him.

“You trust Lancer? After he watched us bring her to climax.”

Oh no. “-I’ll stay with Ozy and Nitocris.” Hakuno stroked at Gilgamesh’s hair as he held her. “It’ll be fine. I’ll demand to leave if they do anything I don’t want.”

Archer pushed back the cloth over his eyes, pressing his face to her side. Those red eyes tried to look up at her, but the pupils were so small. He couldn’t focus in on anything. “When I regain my sight, I am going to beat that king.”

“I won’t leave you so easily, not even if you are an idiot,” Hakuno murmured. She leaned in closer, brushing back his bangs and kissing his forehead. "I promise I'll come back as soon as the morning comes. I'll argue and attack him if he tries to make me stay away from you any longer."

“You’re babying me,” the man complained, but his hands brushed against her cheek so he could press his lips to hers.

“She’s been indulging your basic qualms for far too long.” Caster moved in closer, pressing his lips to hers for a moment after the archer. He grinned as he pulled back. “I should not leave you, but I am going to wander to my chambers for a moment to collect things and begin preparations on the perimeter of this room. When I return, I’ll escort you to Ozymandias.”

“Be careful, Caster.”

The blond simply shut his eyes, grinning. “I’ll return as soon as I am able.”

Chapter Text

Ozymandias had taken no time in pulling her into his arms when Caster delivered her later. Caster had taken the opportunity to knock out Archer, deciding that the man needed more rest for his eyesight.

“The king’s eyes will be fine,” Ozymandias had assured her, pressing her to his chest and holding her close. The man hadn’t bothered to talk to Caster, opting instead to shut the door on the man and motion her to the room. “Welcome to our chambers, my kitten.”

The clothes that Caster had set in her arms for the night were gripped tight as she looked around once more at the room. Pharaoh, for lack of better name for the sphynx, remained on her shoulder, looking around a moment before it scampered from her shoulders and meandered towards a couple other sphynx that were lounging in the corner.

“Come, come.” Ozy motioned her deeper into the room, directing her to the throne. She sat down only to have him pull the clothing from her arms and grin. “Nitocris will be around in a few minutes. She wanted to check in on the medjed.”

“What exactly are the medjed?” The man had mentioned them before.

“They are the guards of the underworld. They obey her direction in defeating opponents. I’m sure they’ll become recognizable when you see them.” He moved closer, brushing back her hair lightly. “Would you care to change before Nitocris comes to check your magic circuits?”

“I think I’ll be alright. Your cloak has been warm enough.”

Truthfully, returning the cloak was at the bottom of her priorities. She had curled up deeper into it when both Gilgamesh Caster and Archer had complained, telling them that the room was cold and she already had been given something to compensate that fact. They had tried to persuade her to switch, but the heavy, thick material of his white cloak had been amazing. Nothing had held a candle to the material. Much to the golden duo’s disgust.

Ozy just watched her look around, smiling as she returned her gaze to him.

Hakuno smiled back at him lightly. “What would you like to do this evening?”

“Do you have any questions for me? I could answer your questions before Nitocris arrives. You must have many questions about your life as Nefertari.”

Again with that, “Ozy-“

“Ramses, remember,” he reminded her.

“…Ramses, I can’t be Nefertari.” There was the whole situation at the Moon Cell. It was true she didn’t remember her past, but… There was no way that what the man was suggesting was true.

The statement went in stride, easily brushed aside as Ramses moved to sit in front of her, resting his arms on her lap. Those golden eyes looked up at her patiently. “I will allow argument, I suppose.”

“I was created on the Moon Cell… I don’t really know what all happened in my past.”

The man nodded, “As one would expect. You had an unfortunate death and went through a great deal of pain.”

“I can’t be Nefertari, I’m sorry.” Hakuno shook her head. “I would remember something. Don’t you think?”

The man hummed, looking away a moment before he grinned. “Ah, I know just the thing. Wait right here.”

The man moved away immediately, digging through the trunks in the room for a few minutes. Clearly this was not going to go anywhere. He was going to continue to insist upon this. If he went too far, she would return to Gilgamesh Archer. The man didn’t need heartless reminders of his wife’s loss.

“Here we are.” The king held up the necklace, making Hakuno pause.

It looked familiar.

The golden necklace…

“You recognize it.” Ozymandias’ excitement seemed to grow as he moved over to her side and kept that eye contact. “This is good.”

Why did she know that necklace?

There was no reason to necessarily know it. The design on it was unfamiliar, although it looked like many of the other decorative choices in Ramses’ room. But the overall shape of the necklace was familiar. It was like…

It was kind of like Gilgamesh Caster’s necklace. Maybe that was it?

“Here, let’s try something,” the rider suggested. The strange necklace was set in her lap, gleaming in the light of the room as Ozymandias slowly undid the necklaces around her neck. He set them aside before slowly setting the necklace into place. It snapped into place with a light click, feeling lighter than expected.

Hakuno pressed a hand to it lightly as the man before her nodded.

“Suitable. Much more suitable. I have some of old clothes in this room with me for this kind of occasion.”

“I don’t think-“

The man waved her off, turning away. “Let me see what other items I have. You recognized the necklace. This is quite an exciting prospect, reminding my wife of her own previous life. Please feel free to remain skeptical. I will enjoy this game of ours.”

The man moved item after item into her arms. He held up a headpiece with flowers, earning a interested look- for no more reason than the flowers were quite well preserved. He brought out a dress, surprisingly made of material not too unlike the dress she had worn on the Moon Cell. The fabric was the same feel, but thinner. Somehow looking both delicate and sturdy.

He left her to change into it without hearing her complaints, returning to his rummaging.

She stood awkwardly, both familiar with the material from her time in the Moon Cell and unfamiliar with the clothing and headpiece.

“Shall we try games?” The man held up a handful of smooth stones and a wooden board. “I know we often played games together to pass the time when I was not having to pass judgement and hear out our people.”

“Ah- A game would be alright, but-“

“Excellent!” He motioned her towards the bed, climbing onto the sheets and beginning to set the stones on either end. “Come along. I’ll explain the rules since you may be unfamiliar once more. As I recall, you’re a quick learner.”

Shit, she was a quick learner.

Hakuno sighed, moving to the bed and carefully climbing onto the bed.

“It’s a simple game. You need to gather as many of the stones from me as possible.” His explanation was thorough, patient. He motioned to her side of the board as he spoke, giving an example couple of moves before he reset the pieces and got them started.

He won the first game, proudly declaring that they would play again until she could ‘get a handle of the rules and moves of the game’.

After another two games, Hakuno took a moment to move the pillows on the bed, fluffing them for both herself and Ramses before they resumed the game. The pharaoh simply watched, his golden eyes smoldering- for lack of better phrasing. The longer she found him looking at her, the more she saw it. He looked at her like Gilgamesh had when they had found one another.

She averted her gaze, feeling her face heat up at that thought.

“You may look upon me as much as you would like,” Ramses offered.

“I-I’m fine.”

The king merely continued the game rather than responding.

“My pharaohs!” Nitocris’ entrance was accompanied by several sheet covered beings, the things moving to the sphynxes as the woman paused, seeing them on the bed. The woman’s eyes widened a little, her hands going to her hair as she cowered back. Her face heated up at the sight.

“I-I can come back later!”

“Come in, come in!” Ramses beckoned, stopping her slumped departure. “I was just playing with my flower. I should have you look at her magic circuits.”

“Right!” Nitocris locked the door, moving into the room slowly. Her jackal ears were smoothed back as she approached them both. “How do you think your circuits are doing, my fellow lady pharaoh?”

“Just call me Hakuno, please.” She wasn’t going to be able to handle them both calling her odd things.

“How are your circuits?”

“They’re okay. It is just sore from time to time,” Hakuno held out her arms, pushing a slight amount of mana through them. Once more, she could feel the trickles of mana. It was like her mana was trying to be as strong as her friends but… “I tried doing a move that I saw a friend do when I was with other mages, but it takes a lot out of me. I haven’t been able to manage the attack more than maybe one or two times without needing to rest.” And resting wasn’t the best move to make when fighting enemies. Resorting to other tactics had ended up being difficult, especially when they got close to others.

“I see.” The woman pulled her arms closer, examining them a moment before she brought those eyes up to hers once again. “Can you please push some magic through them again? Just a little.”

“…sure.”

The woman hummed as she did as asked, motioning her to lay down. “I don’t think your magic can move through your circuits well. It’s similar to your veins that carry blood. They need exercise and sometimes can get clogged. You should just need to have certain points massaged with magic.”

“Massaged?” Ramses raised a brow at that as well.

Nitocris moved her hands along her arms, moving her fingers in gentle yet firm circles. The magic seemed to respond. She could feel the magic move slightly faster.

“I imagine there are points along your entire body that are in this same situation.”

“Then we should resolve this at once. I will perform the massage myself!”

“Astounding as always, my pharaoh!” Nitocris nodding, her smile wide as she looked over at him. “It’ll need to be done routinely. Just to keep things moving. I imagine that with your great prowess, she’ll be functioning better as you work.”

“I-I don’t know about this,” Hakuno shook her head.

All she needed was Gilgamesh walking in on her being rubbed down by the pharaoh. After all the miscommunication and chaos that had occurred, she really didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. Better to just leave it for now and maybe have Gil Caster help her.

“This is your magic we are discussing, my kitten,” Ozymandias shook his head, gesturing towards the bed. “I will be sure to do only as Nitocris has shown.”

“Only that?”

The man nodded.

Well…

If he had been a certain someone else, she would have doubted that. The golden king had never been good at keeping his word at times that involved her person, especially if she showed him interest. Then again, Ozymandias seemed to have some self control to himself. He had spoken like doing anything else was out of the question.

“…Maybe for a few minutes,” she relented.

If she found him getting to something he shouldn’t, she’d hit him with a mana blast.

Yet those few minutes were the gateway to pure heaven. Nitocris simply lay beside her, babbling on about something or other as Ozymandias took over the massage. Following her advice, the king’s hands moved along her person, earning him an undying love for how those hands felt on her back and shoulders. The magic- what sweet beauty that was- began to move like a waterfall through her. Every movement of his let a little more magic move. Each second gave way to a sense of power in her veins.

“There is a blockage here as well,” Nitocris directed.

Power, unrelenting, flowed through her as the man’s fingers kneaded out the blockage.

“There we are,” Nitocris grinned. “That must feel better.”

“It feels amazing,” Hakuno cooed.

“There’s nothing less to expect,” Ramses declared. “I am nothing if not a giving king. I commend you on your praise. It is proper for my efforts.”

“It feels really good, Ramses. This is the best I’ve ever felt.”

Nitocris sucked in a breath.

Hakuno glanced her way tiredly, finding the woman merely shaking her head with a tired smile.

“Nitocris?”

“Rest, my friend,” she told her. “I was thinking that I should give you both time to adjust. The medjed and I will retire for the night. We are next door if you need us.”

Medjed? Ah- Hakuno caught sight of the sheets following after her. Their eyes glanced her way a moment before they filed out of the room. They were such odd things. They hadn’t spoken, hadn’t argued. Merely remaining nearby for assistance and playing with the sphynxes. Even now, she didn’t sense anything from them. She felt like she’d seen them-

Right, when they had fought in the training grounds. They had been nearby.

“How are you feeling, Hakuno?” Ramses leaned over her shoulder.

“Better,” she murmured, looking up at those golden eyes. She was starting to become quite the advocate for golden things.

Better was an understatement for what she felt though. She felt amazing, phenomenal. It felt like she could take on the world and then some. Surely no one had ever felt like this before.

“Would you like to feel what it’s like?”

The man blinked a moment before nodding.

Those astounding hands of his went to the hem of his shirt, pulling it off and tossing it aside. The black fabric disappeared before he laid out beside her. His brown hair covered his eyes slightly as he stretched out.

He was different than Gilgamesh, tanned and without marks. Rather than that, there was simply the subtle hints of muscle along his back, his shoulder blades shifting slightly as she trailed her gaze up his back to where those gold eyes looked her way.

Hakuno moved to climb atop him, her hands going to his back.

To be fair, she should have paid a bit more attention. He had been so good at what he was doing that it had seemed simple. Her fingers pressed into his skin lightly at first, testing her newfound task.

“I won’t break, my queen,” the king murmured, those honey colored eyes once more locked with her gaze. The look of amusement creeped in as he regarded her. “You may press harder upon me.”

Her hands worked deeper against that back, working at anything that seemed tense. His moan made her pause again.

“You are nothing less than Hathor,” he purred.

That must be good… Maybe? Hakuno continued, hesitating in her force for a moment before she heard him give a soft hum of content. He looked over at her as she continued, those golden eyes nothing less than encouraging from beneath those dark lashes and bangs.

He was quite easy to spend time with. The longer she remained like this with him, the more she found herself enjoying the peace. There were no complaints, no issues. There was just simple massaging and so much power.

She couldn’t believe how much more prepared for battle she felt. It shouldn’t have felt this good.

Yet it did.

How long had the magic been blocked? How much more support could she have given everyone on the far side of the moon cell? On the moon cell itself?

Had Gilgamesh sensed this power from her?

It felt new. It all felt new.

Never in her life could she remember feeling like she could fight her way out of mountains of servants. Never had she felt like she could support a thousand different servants.

And now it like all that and more.

The pharaoh rolled over, pausing her massage to hold her hands in his own. He pulled her closer, making her heart stop. His face was right before hers, those eyes reading her gaze for a moment before she felt her body press down upon his.

His arms wrapped around her waist, lips pressing to her bare shoulder.

“I thank you for your kindness. Your ministrations have done wonders to the tension from battles.”

“Ramses…”

Warning bells were going off as he pressed her to his chest. He was so warm, so dangerously warm and inviting. She was going to be in trouble if he tried anything.

“Let us retire for the night. I would like to rest with you in my arms for now. Just to enjoy your companionship.”

Companionship? Hakuno looked up at him, watching the man kick the game board off the bed and kick the sheets over them both. He reached out for a pillow with one hand, setting it under his head before he pulled her close to himself and resumed his sleepy repose.

She shifted slightly, resting her head against his chest.

This would be just for now.

He wasn’t her servant and he wouldn’t become one. Gilgamesh Caster and Archer as well as Lancer Cu were enough. She didn’t need more servants.

Even if he was good at encouraging her magic flow.

And it felt really good.

“Goodnight, Ramses,” Hakuno murmured.

“Goodnight,” he replied simply.

For once, unlike the kings of Babylon and the pervert minded lancer, she slept in the arms of a gentleman.

Chapter Text

Caster adjusted his sleeves as he meandered the hallways towards Ozymandias’ chambers.

Things were going better than expected, which meant there was something he was missing. There were always hiccups, mishaps in the system here or there that would mean that things were going right. Progress without friction was not progress.

Archer had made himself at home on his own bed once again, complaining about having Hakuno stolen away before going to sleep. The stubborn man had insisted that he check up on Hakuno at the first rays of light.

Well, the streaks of gold and crimsons were rising outside the windows. He could indulge the man in this case. Their ends were the same.

Ozymandias’ door was locked. Caster threw the locks out of the way with his own indulgent ways and pushed the door aside.

His gaze flickered to the bed and he paused.

Perhaps…

Perhaps it had not been wise to leave Hakuno in the care of the rider after all.

Hakuno’s form, from what little could be seen, was wrapped in the man’s arms. The same blooms the two pharaohs had left in Archer’s chambers the other week were now adorned in her hair. Her arms were noticeable underneath the blankets, lumps wrapping around the king’s waist as she slumbered against him.

The pharaoh himself seemed to be enjoying his position, his face buried in her hair this morning. His body was wrapped around her tightly, protectively.

Unacceptable.

To think the man would go to such lengths...

“Pharaoh,” Caster called, closing the door behind himself, lest Archer get up himself and see the incriminating scene. The man would raise all of Chaldea in his ire.

“We are sleeping, Caster,” the pharaoh murmured.

“I require my master back in my arms.”

“She is resting, king. Begone.”

Caster moved forward, standing at the foot of the bed. “Hakuno requires to be with her servants. Seeing as you have yet to be able to separate yourself from your master-“

The pharaoh sat up, running a hand through his tussled hair. “We are trying to rest and you are bringing that up. It will be resolved soon enough. I will find out how you accomplished your goal. In the end, it is obvious to whom she belongs.”

Seeing her dolled up in his wife’s attire, Caster could only shake his head, carefully extracting her from the bed. Her head leaned against his shoulder, hand pressing to his chest. A warmth seeker. That was a good sign when his home was one prone to heat. He pressed his lips to her forehead lightly, earning a glare from the Egyptian.

“Put her down, Caster.”

“King of kings,” Caster held the woman in better view. “She has no doubt informed you that she is not your wife. She lacks a few features that are more prevalent with your wife as well.”

“Reincarnation is not a perfect process.”

“It is not, but she cannot be your woman. She was with Archer prior to our time here in Chaldea.”

“She did inform me that she was created by something called the Moon Cell, created after a human.” The man merely nodded, standing up and grinning. As though he were merely playing with some thought in his head. “She informed me that she has no memory of that time prior or what kind of individual she was modeled after. In her case, it is entirely possible for her to be my Nefertari. She simply cannot remember because my wife was beyond replication, beyond perfection. The features you speak of are nothing more than that Moon Cell being unable to encompass the full perfection of my wife. I do not blame it, merely rejoice in what was accomplished.”

That was sensible.

In the king of kings’ position, he would have made the same assumption. However, it did not remove the fact that Hakuno was his. Whether the man approved of it or not was beside the point.

“Hand me my wife.” Ramses held out his arms, waiting.

“I’m returning to Archer’s room with Hakuno. As reasonable as your claims may be, they do not remove the fact that she has decided that Archer and myself are whom she wishes to remain with.”

“Don’t do this to me, Caster.” Ramses motioned for the handoff once again, “I will not permit her to be removed from my care so simply. I lost my wife once.”

Caster moved a step back, taking the slow approach towards the door. “Think carefully about this, Ozymandias.”

“I am thinking quite clearly about this. It is you who is insisting upon being difficult.”

“King of kings…”

He needed to think of something to tell the man. Not leaving with Hakuno meant she would be forced to indulge the man’s whims. By doing so, there was no telling what would happen. They could gain an ally of unsurpassed loyalty or Archer and himself could lose what they had gained. Leaving with Hakuno without calming the king meant that they would lose the king for sure. If Gudako was against Hakuno-

“King,” Caster addressed, stopping his retreat. “If you truly wish to help Hakuno, leaving the possibility of her being the soul of your former wife or not, then you are directing your anger in the wrong direction.”

“The Berserker, Hakuno informed me of this.” His arms lowered, resting his hands on his hips now. “I will not allow such heresy to persist. I intend to let the man know how he has wronged soon enough.”

“A few of us are worried that the command may have come from Gudako.”

Those eyes narrowed, his head tilting slightly. “What do you mean, Caster?”

“Berserker has been loyally at the side of Gudako for months. Why would he suddenly feel the need to attack another master unless Gudako said something? He is not one to meddle in the affairs of others. He simply does not care enough.”

“If this is true-“

“What Hakuno needs and what I’ve asked of you is to help Archer and myself with protecting Hakuno. Gudako controls a large array of servants from several different classes. Yourself and Nitocris’ assistance on finding out the truth is a welcomed-“

“I shall resolve this immediately. Allow me to dress and we shall speak to Gudako ourselves!”

“With Hakuno in tow?”

The man paused, having barely pulled his shirt off the floor. “Of course not. We can leave her with Nitocris.”

“Archer would be a wiser choice.”

“He could not defend her from me.”

“You had a headstart. Nitocris herself could not compare to you either,” Caster pointed out.

The remark earned a smirk from the king, his shirt going over his head before he nodded. “I suppose this is true. I am without equal in this world.”

Arrogant as ever.

“I suppose bequeathing my wife to the Archer would be a wise move for now. She can remain safe while I resolve this issue with Berserker.”

“Several other servants are planning to join us,” Caster remarked, heading towards the door once again with the king at his side; “should the conversation go south.”

“Unnecessary, but welcomed.”

They made it through the threshold before the blur of red sprinted down the hallways towards them. The blonde hair waved in the air behind her, hands gripping the edges of her dress in an effort to move the silly fabric from her path. Those green eyes gleamed as she grew close, wetness moving down her cheeks.

“MY PRAETOR!”

Oh no.

Ozymandias moved into her path immediately, holding up a hand as Caster held Hakuno tighter to his body.

“Out of my way, king!” Nero bounced on her feet, eyeing Hakuno like a starved man to a feast. “That is my Praetor! She needs me!”

“This is my wife, reincarnated,” the king corrected.

“Your wife? Impossible! I fought alongside my Praetor in a grail war. She loves me. Move aside and let me see her.” Nero looked over at Caster, biting her lip. “Please, let me see my master. She was mine before any of you. She is my Praetor and I’ve missed her like nothing else.”

“You didn’t notice her sooner?” Caster asked.

“How can I when Gudako has kept me in Vlad’s company for weeks. I just heard from Lancer about her. Please… please…” The woman held out her hands, “return my master to me.”

Ozymandias shook his head, chuckling with that same knowing smile. “It is impossible that she was your master. Gilgamesh had her as a master before.”

“And I had her before him!”

They all fell silent at that. It was hard to argue the time before Gilgamesh. Only Archer would know for sure whether the woman was speaking the truth or not. Or Hakuno, but Caster knew better than to awaken her. She needed rest and plenty of it. Her magic would be important to recover.

“Gil…” Hakuno’s head turned further towards him, burying against his chest. Her grip tightened as the king of kings and emperor of Rome watched in bemusement.

“Praetor…”

The emperor’s gaze flickered longingly over the woman. Sorrow etching its claim upon her expression. There was little else to say to the woman. Little else that could be done in efforts to soothe over the poor emperor. Caster pressed his lips to Hakuno’s forehead and turned to return to Archer’s room.

“We shall talk later, Ozymandias,” Caster told the king simply.

Chapter Text

I have nothing to give to her who lacks nothing at all.
You are the door through which the cold gets in.

You are the fire that goes out. You are the pitch
that sticks to the hands of the one who carries the bucket.

You are the house that falls down. You are the shoe
that pinches the foot of the wearer.

- Gilgamesh to Ishtar, Epic of Gilgamesh

 

Awakening was disorienting at first. Hakuno’s eyes drifted to the ceiling, staring up towards the bold patterns that gleamed in golden thread across the red fabrics that adorned the ceiling. Her body shifted, only to find a pair of arms moving carefully to cradle her closer. A face pressed itself against her shoulder, burying itself in her hair.

She shifted again, turning her gaze to the man at her side.

Archer’s body was curled up at her side, as though he had spent the night attempting to entangle himself to her in such a way that she would be unable to abandon him. At her movement, his arms lured her in, pressing her to his chest so that he could adjust their positions.

Her arms worked their way over his body. Her lips found their way to his face. He was not one for pity, but a small piece of her pitied the childish look in the king. It pitied that he was so far, yet so close.

“Hakuno.”

Once again, she turned her gaze away, taking in something new. Someone else, to be precise. The man stood at the end of the bed, once more attired in normal clothes. His turtlenecks had returned, this time with a black one that showcased his golden necklace.

“You’re awake?”

“Barely,” she admitted, yawning a bit as she remained in place. “I think I would like to sleep a little longer. Ozymandias and Nitocris helped me repair my magic circuits and the magic flow is taking some getting used to.”

“I was curious about what could be done about that. While knowledgeable in magic myself, I have had little experience with repairing mages. I should have thought to inquire with Nitocris.”

She almost went to lay back down, but the mage king extended a cup of coffee in her direction. Its sweet aroma wafted into the air while its promising warmth lingered on Caster’s hands as she felt him pull her hands to the cup. Rather than curl herself up against the great golden king of heroes, Hakuno found herself fluffing the pillows into a pile and sitting up in bed.

The first swig went down like the first rays of sunshine after a rainstorm, clearing up the fog and dissonance from her body.

“Bathory and Cu Alter have taken to roaming the hallway to Gudako’s chambers,” Caster began. “According to Cu Caster, they’ve been disappearing one at a time. Both of them have been using the rayshift room at times and returning only to let the other depart. I believe they may have been taking turns attempting to find yourself and Lancer in Babylon, going from town to town.”

“If that’s the case, it seems more likely that Gudako may be behind everything.” It was hard to know when the woman was hiding behind the two that had attacked her. It would have been easier to know what to think if she had been able to speak to the woman, even if it was just once.

But that wasn’t in the cards and it was too late now.

Getting around Bathory and Cu Alter meant fighting. If there was a chance that it was pure coincidence that they had attacked her and not on Gudako’s authority, there would be no chance of finding out.

“I was hoping to avoid fighting if there was a chance that it was all a misunderstanding.”

“Hakuno, there is another matter we must discuss before Archer awakens.”

“What’s wrong?”

The king moved his chair closer. “It is the subject of Nero Claudius.”

“Ah. Nero.”

She couldn’t say anything else than that. She had loved the emperor of Rome. Although the memories were not as strong as they had been before, faint traces of them lingered. As they did with Tamamo and Atilla. Thinking about it now, everything from the Moon Cell felt so faint. Was she forgetting things after all? Did Gilgamesh have something to fear after all in regards to her memory loss?

Caster sighed, “so she was your servant at one point.”

Dragging her thoughts away from anxiety, Hakuno nodded. “I came from the Moon Cell. I summoned Nero… but I was broken by the Moon Cell into three parts. I ended up with Gilgamesh last, but at least I was whole.”

“So you had Nero and Gilgamesh?”

“Nero, Tamamo No Mae, Altera, and then Gilgamesh. Never at the same time when I was whole.”

The mage king leaned back, running a hand through his hair as he sighed. “It would seem this will become complicated far sooner… Nero would like to have you back. She was rather insistent on the matter when she caught sight of you in my arms.”

“She’s a sweet person,” Hakuno told him.

“Are you saying that you would like to be returned to her?”

“Of course not.” Was her face burning? Hakuno busied herself with her coffee a moment before speaking up. “…Nero is wonderful, but… I already made my choice. That goes for Ozymandias and the others as well. I don’t intend to have a harem or anything like that.”

“A harem?” The man chuckled. “You seem under the impression that we would be willing to share. Archer and I can hardly stand one another, let alone another coming to claim you. With them at our heels, we’ve agreed to a truce, but with them aside, we would also like you to choose between us.”

“It won’t happen.”

The man just smiled. The same arrogant, mocking smile that Archer wore so often. “There are times when we must choose between everything, my master.”

“But-“

“Drink your coffee,” Caster urged. “I simply wanted to know what kind of relationship there had been before Gilgamesh. Those are your only servants from before coming here?”

“Yes.”

“Then I will make sure to keep a wary eye for them.”

Were they all thinking along the same lines to have her back? It had been so long. They hadn’t been anywhere nearby to save her. Thinking back, it was hard to imagine that they had felt too much for her. Infatuation, perhaps, but not real love. Nothing like what Gilgamesh seemed to feel. Perhaps it was just the king’s deep need to claim her as another treasure, but he seemed to at least feel possessive, enamored.

“I think… Maybe I should talk to Nero.”

“You don’t have a great track record with talking to servants,” Caster pointed out. “You could very well earn yourself another stubborn servant at your heels. Lancer is already fancying himself a permanent addition to your team.”

Cu Chulainn was truly asking for trouble.

“Nero and I had history though,” she argued. “If the other two are going to look my way, it might be easier for her to talk to them with us.”

“Alright.” The man nodded, “but I will remain close just in case. When do you want to speak to her?”

“Is she available now?” Hakuno looked over at Archer. If she did it before the king awakened, maybe he wouldn’t have to worry about it. He had gone through enough trouble on her behalf. And what did she give him? Trouble? Theft? A battle that was looking more and more complicated every moment?

She could at least learn to tell one servant no for him.

“Come along then.” Caster offered a hand, helping her carefully move over Archer’s person and onto the floor. “Let’s get you dressed and hurry with this. I have a feeling we are running on a deadline.”

“I don’t want Archer to worry.”

“All the more reason to rush.”

Hakuno nodded, moving off the bed and heading towards the dresser nearby. She ignored the king’s lingering hands, accepting his help with the clothes they had brought back from Babylon before she frowned. A green vase on top of the dresser had her mind drifting to something else.

The green flashes she had seen those couple times. If she saw them again…

“Gilgamesh?”

“Hmm?” Caster simply looked down at her.

“Do you know of any servants with green hair?”

“Green hair?”

“I thought I saw a servant or something with long, leaf green like hair.” Then again, it might not have been a servant at all. She had first seen it bust the door to the rayshift room. Surely it could have been nothing more than a mana flare or power thing. Maybe she was imagining it.

“I don’t believe I have seen a servant with long green hair like that. Atalanta has green and blonde hair. David is green haired, but his is short… Why?”

“Nothing. Nevermind.”

She didn’t need to worry him about it.

“Let’s get moving then. Nero will most likely be in the kitchens area. She normally takes tea in the mornings.”

Her hand went into his, holding on as they began to head out into the hallway.

“Caster!”

Gilgamesh froze as they rounded another corner. His eyes drifted to the woman at the end of the hall before he pushed Hakuno back, out of view. Hakuno could only watch the other’s movements, unable to see whoever had called out to him.

“Hakuno, double back.”

“Who is it?”

“Gudako’s second in command.”

Hakuno frowned. Talking to her would be wise, but- No, she needed to talk to Gudako in person. No seconds. No servants. Only she could call off any kind of hunt that had started. If the second had other servants with her, this could easily turn into a fight.

She nodded at Caster.

“You should talk to her. I’ll double back and you can bring Nero to me.”

The man nodded, moving forward. “Mash, what are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same,” the woman replied, her voice taking on an accusatory tone. “Nero seems upset.”

"To what end would you tell me this? I do not frequent the emperor's chambers." The haughty tone was already taking over as she shook her head.

Hakuno turned, moving away from the two and back towards Gilgamesh’s room. They hadn’t gone too far. Simply four or five hallways? Maybe six. She had gotten a bit preoccupied with thinking of how she would explain her choice to Nero.

Her eyes drifted to the next hallway and she paused.

Green hair.

There was no doubt about it. She had indeed seen a servant before. Both in the rayshift chamber and in the hallway.

The man… woman? The person stood in the hallway with his eyes focused on the window, towards the swirling tundra of ice and snow outside. Their clothes- or rather- their robes were loose, hanging around them like the medjed more than like a regular set of clothes. The more they stood there, the more ethereal they felt. Like they could simply be a statue placed there rather than a being.

But the eyes, deep and dark from this distance, moved to look at her.

Hakuno paused, debating over whether to run or move closer.

“…At last…”

Why did the voice remind her of wind chimes? It wasn’t necessarily high pitched, in fact, the voice was quite masculine in quality.

The man- woman- person, yes. The person stopped all her thoughts as they stepped towards her. Her body mimicked the action, taking a step back.

“Who are you?”

The person didn’t stop, opting instead to take another step forward. The necklace around their neck fell to the floor, slithering forward immediately before she felt something wrap around her ankles. A gold chain gleamed as she looked down.

The expression on the person’s face almost seemed… sad.

There was no other word for it. The glistening look in those eyes as they approached was like unshed tears. The hair hung a little lower. She stood still as they closed the distance, looming over her before they smiled. Their hands rested on her shoulders as the chains disappeared and the necklace appeared around their neck once again.

“You are scared of me.”

“You tied me up.” Anyone wouldn't feel comfortable being tied in place.

“That was after. What worries you about me?” The person’s head tilted, hair falling into his face a little more.

“I’m… Well,” she paused. How did she explain?

"Please talk to me. Is it my body that bothers you?"

Their body? Why would she worry about his appearance? Hakuno shook her head.

“The servants around here have attacked me. Two of them anyway. I don’t know who I can trust right now besides Gilgamesh. I don’t want to end up being hurt or taken away from him. He’s lost enough.”

It was a stupid decision to trust this being. She didn't know if they meant her harm or were going to kill her, but she was stuck for the moment. Moving would mean they would catch her again. More importantly, something in her wanted to tell them. She needed to for some reason.

“Gilgamesh?” The being’s eyes gleamed, eyes drifting around once more. As he looked, she felt their grip on her shoulders tighten. “…Is he here? Now? With you?”

“I just left Caster behind to distract someone while I return to Archer Gilgamesh.”

“Gilgamesh never seemed like an Archer to me,” the person snorted a little. “Doesn’t have the patience or the willingness to learn the bow.”

Bow? Did he think Archer meant actual bowman?

“Gilgamesh Archer uses his gates of Babylon. He won’t use an actual bow.”

“Ah, that makes more sense.” The person nodded, releasing her shoulders. “Should we go find him now?”

“I don’t know who you are… I don’t think it would be wise for me to just take strangers to him. You really shouldn’t talk to strangers.”

"But you think that you and I strangers, don’t you? And we’re talking, aren’t we?”

“Yes, and I don’t know if I can trust you?”

Honestly, she was being an idiot right now and her entire being was ready to simply tell this servant everything. Was it some kind of talent the other had? Had the chains been their noble phantasm, coaxing her into trusting them for some reason.

Whatever the case, she wouldn't risk Gilgamesh.

“How can you not know if you can trust your own servant?”

"What?"

The person shook their head. “You brought me to this place a moment before disappearing in that light. I didn’t know what happened so I hid. I didn’t feel you until last night and I was so hungry that I decided not to chase after you in that running situation last night and instead get some food. They have good food here, master.”

“I… I summoned you?”

“You were looking right at me at the time,” the person told her patiently.

Hakuno just blinked.

She had been trying to summon Caster to her side. A Sumerian…

Then again, she hadn’t been the best summoner. Rin had needed to work with her on being able to get things around and remember all the words for summoning and contracting spells. If she had mixed up the process with command spells…

“If you are my servant, I command you to…” She paused, trying to think of something no one would do. “I command you to… tell me how you died originally.”

Her hand burned as the command spell disappeared from her hand. The being before her simply shook their head.

“The Sumerian gods ordered my death for killing the bull of Heaven with the help of Gilgamesh. Ishtar was jealous that the king had wanted nothing to do with her and had rebuffed her offer for marriage. I died in the king’s arms. Please don’t ask me about my servant death. It will make you sad.”

Enkidu.

Hakuno stared at the man, covering her mouth as she felt her legs turn to jelly.

There was no one else this person could be. The servant before her was the elusive Enkidu, the one Archer mourned like a lost limb. The one who he would never speak of, never make a new friend because of…

Rather, Gilgamesh had resorted to nothing else but drinking and insulting people around him. He had become someone of great power and terrible temperament.

The being before her frowned. “…Did I upset you?”

“I just- You’re Enkidu?”

“Ah- You do know me!” The astounding being simply smiled, blowing a hole right through her train of thought. It was so pure of a smile, like a child more than anything. “I’m so glad! I was worried for a moment there, my friend!”

“H-How…”

“Hmm? How what?”

“You’re Enkidu.”

“I am.” He nodded, patient as could be.

Hakuno shook her head, running a hand through her hair. “You died. Gilgamesh told me that much. You died and no one ever saw you again. How are you here?”

“How is my friend here," they countered. "We were summoned. Do I need to fight him for a grail?”

“NO! I mean- no. He’s my servant…” And Enkidu seemed to be her servant as well.

Those green eyes just gleamed, a smile breaking out onto the being’s face. “I didn’t expect that. This is fun. I have never been summoned for a master with multiple servants. We won’t mention that if you don’t want to though. Anyway, just direct me to fighting, okay?”

Fighting? Hakuno gave up, or, rather, her legs did. Enkidu’s arms wrapped around her at the last moment, holding her upright.

“Master?”

She buried her face against their shoulder, trying to breathe through what this meant. What this would mean for Gilgamesh. Of all the people and beings in the world and in time… To summon the king of heroes only friend…

It felt like she had been in these arms before. She could smell the scent of rain and earth on their person. They felt so cool to the touch, warm in only the barest of senses. Comforting in every sense of the word. Her face pressed against them more, taking it all in.

They were alive, her mind rejoiced. Alive and here.

It felt like she had lost this being rather than Gilgamesh. She was getting far too close to Gilgamesh, taking all of his feelings and worries for herself.

That must have been it. She could feel tears pricking her eyes as she nuzzled against the being.

“Master?” Enkidu’s voice was closer, just beside her ear. “Are you tired? Hungry? I know somewhere where we could get something to eat.”

“I need to take you to Gilgamesh.”

He would be beside himself when he saw his friend again. There was no doubt in her mind. Archer would be unable to hold back his excitement at having the clay servant with them.

“Where do I need to go?”

“I really need to take you to Gilgamesh…” Hakuno held onto the servant tighter. Was it disbelief making her senses swim? Shock?

Every fiber of her being was screaming to hold onto the clay Sumerian and never let go. She wanted to just keep them away from all the dangers of this place, spoil them with foods and blankets and-

She had to take them to Gilgamesh.

“You already said I need to see Gil,” Enkidu replied. “Which way?”

“The door by the gold goblet… I just- I need to take you to Gilgamesh.”

Her vision swam as the servant pulled back, looking down at her with that open smile. “That’s fine. Let’s go finally see our friend together, shall we?”

Gilgamesh, Hakuno thought as her vision turned dark. They're back.

Chapter Text

Hakuno could feel a pair of arms latched onto her as she found her consciousness returning. Shifting, she felt the pair of arms firmly in place, unrelenting in their grip.

“Archer, your grip is too tight,” Hakuno whined, knowing the moment the words were out that the man was no doubt going to dump her onto the floor…

Again.

“Master, don’t waste your breath. You’re probably wrapped up in all the sheets you’ve stolen from me last night. I swear I have no idea when you grew so monstrous. And to someone who has suffered injury. You’re lucky I care for you as I do.”

Sheets? What was he on about? She barely had any sheets.

The pair of arms around her waist tightened, a voice rising up between them.

“Forgive me, friends, I got cold while you were both resting. I also don’t know my own strength. It’s been a while since I’ve actually gotten the chance to move around.”

The sound of something slamming against the ground was the only sign that Hakuno got that Gilgamesh had heard that voice too. Her eyes flew open, going to the top of a mass of green hair holding onto her belly.

The sheets were all wrapped around the being as well, creating a burrito of a being as Archer’s red eyes were just barely visible from over him. The king sat in pure shock on the floor, eyes flickering between the two of them as he tried to form words.

Tried being the key word.

As she leaned over Enkidu a bit more to ask the king if he was alright, she could see his mouth gaping. His hands were twitching, as though he were debating whether movement was the best way to proceed. Yet, even as he floundered for any kind of response, the king was unable to move away or towards them. He simply- stared.

Enkidu’s grip was still too tight. Hakuno turned her gaze away, brushing back the mass of messy green hair to watch those pale green eyes look up at her. They had some gunk at the corner of one eye, a singular flaw on an otherwise perfect face. Her finger wiped at it before she could consider her actions, those eyes closing a moment before she saw their lips part in a smile for her.

She was suffering heart palpitations at the cuteness of that expression. The servant was unnaturally precious.

“We were sleeping so well. I had gotten scared for a minute that something was wrong.” The being shook their head. “I grew scared when I had thought you weren’t going to wake up, master.”

“E-E-Enkidu…”

Hakuno and Enkidu both glanced towards the king now, watching the man motion at the servant.

“Th-that’s my…”

Enkidu’s clear expression and sweet smile turned mischievous, their hand coming to rest under their chin as they looked over at the king. “You know, I never imagined that you’d develop a stutter. You’ve always struck me as more of a charismatic kind of king. Did you decide to visit Ishtar after I was gone?”

History was made with that remark.

Hakuno could only watch as the king’s face went scarlet, that stutter of his developing even more as he tried to splutter his way into a response for that. Had she the ability and willingness to move, she would have covered her mouth to stop the king from seeing her gape.

“I-I WOULD N-NEVER T-TOUCH THAT B-“

“I raised him really well,” Enkidu told her, looking up at her only to push her jaw back up. “I did. You see, his mother was really worried and made me promise to look after him.”

“ENKIDU! ENOUGH!”

“I can tell you care since he gets permission to sleep in your bed, but we need more sheets too. He hogs them,” Enkidu went on, glancing over at the king only to earn a snarl from the man nearby.

Their bodies collided the moment Enkidu opened their mouth to add more insult to injury. The two of them barreled to the other side of the bed, slamming against the wall before the real fighting began. Hair pulling, neck biting, clothing tugging, punches that never landed-

There was little else to do but steal what sheets had managed to stay on the bed and watch.

The hair pulling ended it; as both Gilgamesh and Enkidu yanked one another’s hair back. Their glares turned into smirks… shortly before turning into two shit eating grins. The rough grip on one another morphed into a strong hold of one another, the two hugging and patting one another on the back as they both laughed.

Without a doubt, the only thought she could settle on was that Enkidu was preciously important and there would be no consideration of removing them from their contract no matter what happened. She’d rather be weaker and keep the two together than make Gilgamesh and Enkidu spend a moment apart.

“You’ve gotten just a little bit stronger,” Enkidu told him.

“I did, since when do you give me that much shit, friend of mine?”

“Since you steal bedsheets! You know, poor master and I were freezing the whole time you were asleep. You couldn’t spare a single one of them?”

“I don’t even understand how you’re here,” Gilgamesh exclaimed, ignoring the accusations. “How did you get here?!”

“I just told you that my master and I were sharing your bed.” Enkidu shook their head. “She fainted on me in the hallway- and right after I finally found her again. Do you know how often she disappears? I was trying to help her escape this loud room when she summoned me and then she was gone when I chased off her enemy.”

Archer’s eyes flickered to hers a moment before he looked back at Enkidu. “…Did you see a blue suited lancer when you attacked her enemy?”

“Oh him?” Enkidu grinned sheepishly. “He poofed a minute after master. I pressed a button.”

So Enkidu had accidentally sent Lancer after her?

She owed the servant more than anything. Without Lancer, she never would have made it to Uruk. She would have died of the heat and the boar. Without the green haired servant, she would have never been able to see Gilgamesh again. The king would have searched forever in vain for her.

“You know,” Archer grinned at his friend. “How is it you always end up making a stupid move that always works out?”

“Hmm?” Enkidu shrugged, “I don’t know how that can be when you are the one who always makes the dumb moves. I saw you flirt with half the temple priestesses in Uruk. And I also remember that woman from Nippur that Siduri warned you against.”

Archer winced. “Timing, Enkidu.”

“Don’t tell me about timing. I remember when she got so excited she pissed on your floor. I wasn’t even allowed to do that.”

Peed-

No, she didn’t want to know what that story was about.

“I still can’t believe you’re here.” Archer grinned at them again, cupping his cheek. “The last time I saw you, you had a maggot coming out of this nose.”

Enkidu yawned lightly, pressing his face against that hand. “Old friend, you should stop gawking. Our master is quite strong.”

“Enkidu,” Hakuno looked over at him. “Does anyone else know that you’re here?”

“Hmm?”

Anyone else?” The servant hummed a moment, “No… I don’t believe anyone does... aside from that man from the room who made you disappear... And Merlin. He’s fun. I think you’d like hanging out with him. We had an argument over ah-“ the clay servant shook their head, stopping the excited description before it could be started. “Nevermind. It doesn’t matter what it’s about. Anyway, Merlin helped me out when I was roaming the hallways. I didn’t want to be attacked before you returned and then I was taken by surprise when you showed up and were whisked off. I didn’t really want to inconvenience you.”

“As though you could inconvenience anyone.” Archer moved to stand up, his smile radiating in its intensity. “This is good. I have everything I want now. The three of us should just leave right now. Let’s return to Babylon or venture into the universe.”

“Archer.” Did this really need explaining? “We still have the issue of Caster not being here and of my contract to lancer.”

“Ah- Is there a problem with our contract?” Enkidu asked.

Archer pulled the servant to the bed, shaking his head. “Never, Enkidu.”

“I don’t really understand then. I am a lancer.”

Hakuno shook her head. “I have another lancer servant right now. He’s a lancer by the name of Cu Chulainn.”

“Ah, so you have… three servants?”

“Actually, I have four servants.”

Enkidu just hummed again, their cheek pressing against her head. “How interesting. I’ve never heard of four servants for a master before. You must be stronger than I had estimated you’d be.”

“I-I’m not that strong.” Hakuno felt her face heating up, her gaze flickering to the golden archer only to see him simply enjoying the view. And of course he would. It was his only friend holding his master. She’d just brought Christmas to the king.

“PRAETOR!”

Hakuno sighed as she heard the sound of banging against the door. It looked like Caster had found Nero. That being said, it almost felt criminal to be destroying the moment just to talk about unpleasantness.

“Hmm?” Archer glanced over at the door, scowling. “What is she doing here? I had Gudako send her to Vlad. Damn woman can’t keep any promises.”

“Caster was telling me that she found me earlier,” Hakuno replied. “We may have trouble with the other two as well.”

The man shrugged. “Altera disappeared a few months ago after a bad singularity and Tamamo usually is busy with some of the other servants. Nero’s the only real problem at this point.”

The pounding continued, making the Archer look back towards her and Enkidu. Leaving the situation up to him, she had no doubt in her mind that the king would simply let the woman pound away at the door. She could cry and whine to no avail.

“Gilgamesh…”

Archer groaned. “Just get my eyesight and my friend back and this mongrel has to show up.”

“Let her in,” Hakuno ordered.

“Hakuno…“

“Give me a few minutes with her to talk things out.” Hakuno could already see the argument starting. She motioned at Enkidu. “I’ll keep Enkidu with me the whole time.”

“…I will come right back,” Archer informed them both, beginning to unbolt the door. “I am going to find that worthless Caster version of myself and-“

“I am here,” a voice called as the door was pushed open. Behind the woman with her red skirts flying all around her, Caster glared over at Archer. “We need to talk about servants for a few minutes.”

“You have a minute,” the archer told him.

Nero sprinted as quickly as she could to crash against the bed. Her arms wrapped around Hakuno, avoiding the servant holding her.

“PRAETOR!”

“Nero.” Hakuno hugged her back, motioning Caster off. At his hesitation, she shook her head from around the emperor’s head. She mouthed for a few minutes, earning a nod.

Enkidu remained in place, murmuring. “How odd. My friend has doubled.”

“I missed you, Praetor.” Nero’s flushed face was so close despite her pulling away. Those green eyes gleaming. “I didn’t know what happened when the Moon Cell took you back. I waited, but- you disappeared.”

“It’s so good to see you too.”

Nero smiled, cupping her face. Those green eyes so gentle. It was like before, when it had been just the two of them. She hadn’t been lying to Caster when she had said she had loved Nero. She had loved Nero. Loved her so greatly.

But her memories had become fragmented. Being left alone and being trapped in the far side of the Moon Cell had changed that. She had been alone again. She had moved on.

“Praetor?”

“Nero, I…” How could she put this?

She didn’t want to hurt Nero. The woman had been so close for so long. She had been a loving friend and a wonderful love. They had gone through-

Enkidu leaned forward, resting their chin on her shoulder as they looked down at the emperor before them. “You are a servant as well?”

“Ah- Yes. I am a servant to Gudako.”

“Gudako… Interesting.” Enkidu hugged her a little more, smiling without teeth. “Hakuno is my master. Or- I guess Praetor?”

“Oh, I didn’t introduce myself to you.” Hakuno looked over at him. “It’s Hakuno.”

“I know. I just didn’t know if Praetor was another name for you.” Enkidu replied, before their gaze returned to Nero. “I really like having my master. Don’t you?”

“…Ah…” Nero looked between them, pulling back slightly. “I… I do like my master.”

“That’s good.” Enkidu nodded at her. “I am happy you think highly of mine too. She’s really amazing. I saw her take on a servant last night head on.”

“She took on a servant?”

Hakuno stared up at them as well. What were they talking about? Fighting- Did they mean when Ozymandias was running from Gilgamesh with her in tow?

“She was over the servant’s shoulder, wiggling around as they went.”

They were not the most supportive servant. Nero sat up and frowned, “You can’t call that fighting. Hakuno could have been in danger.”

“I doubt it. Not when he was trying his best not to grab her butt. She may have been caught, but she had things under control. Reminded me of Siduri when we used to live together. She’d catch me all the time, but she wouldn’t be able to do anything. I always got away with trouble.”

“The servants here aren’t like other people from life.”

“I know. They’re dumber.”

“Enkidu,” Hakuno looked over at them, “could you give Nero and I some time to talk? We used to be master and servant at one time.”

“I can tell.”

Nero sat up more, “Praetor and I need time to talk about what we can do. I miss my master.”

“I would let you, but I don’t want to lose my master.”

“Hakuno could have-“

“She has four servants,” Enkidu replied. “Four. Me, Lancer Choo choo, and my friend Gilgamesh… who is an Archer without a bow and a Caster without any shirt.”

A caster without a-

Hakuno smiled a bit, shaking her head. “It’s fine, Enkidu. I’m going to just talk to Nero for a few minutes. I won’t be adding any more servants.”

“I’m gonna just stay here anyway,” Enkidu replied. “I’m gonna lay back down and when you’re done, you can nudge me and we’ll go to eat.”

“Are you hungry?”

“I’m always hungry.” The servant grinned, “If you want, I can show you how empty my stomach is. It’s so empty.”

It was little wonder why Gilgamesh liked Enkidu. The clay being was fun. She had no doubt that the being would find a way to show her how empty their stomach was. She wanted to ask about Siduri a little more, but that would come in time.

“Nero,” Hakuno leaned forward, holding the woman’s hands. “I don’t know what to tell you. I really enjoyed when we were master and servant. I just-“

She smiled, patting her hands. The little laugh escaped the woman as Hakuno found herself stopped. “You don’t need to try to let me down. As soon as I heard you say the king’s name, I knew I had been replaced. I don’t like it, but, after thinking about it, I realized that I did the same.”

“Huh?”

“Gudako,” Nero smiled. “She’s my master and I’ve been serving her for weeks. She doesn’t need me too often, but when she has tasks for me, they are tasks that only a great Roman emperor such as myself can complete. I have seen my fellow Romans, saved my people, and gone through great efforts with my master to ensure that things continue in the best way for humanity.”

“I-I see.”

“Mhmm.” Nero kissed her hands. “But I want you to know that you are still important to me. I needed you to know that I will do whatever I need to in order to help you. I heard from the others that you were in danger and I can’t let that happen. No matter who we’ve turned ourselves towards as those important to us, you and I have a bond and I won’t turn away from that.”

“Nero…”

“Ah, you have that look on your face when you love me more than anything.”

“You’re just saying nonsense,” Enkidu whined, rolling over to wrap their arms around Hakuno’s waist.

Hakuno pat the servant’s head lightly, looking once more at Nero and nodding. “Nero, I just- I can’t thank you enough for understanding. Everything has been insane since I’ve arrived and everyone just makes these snap judgments. I do love you, it’s just that-“

“I know. I have the same problem.” Nero laughed. “We grew apart. It happens. We are beings capable of loving more than one.”

“Could I ask you to help me?”

“Hmm?”

Hakuno shook her head. “Gudako sent Cu Alter and Bathory after me. She may be against me and I don’t know why or-“

“Gudako? After you?” Those green eyes just narrowed. “I haven’t heard anything so absurd in my life. Gudako is a sweet person. She’s never done anything like sending a servant after another master like that.”

“Ask Cu Lancer. He was around when we were attacked.”

“Did Cu Lancer do something?”

“He was helping me escape Babylon. We hadn’t done anything.”

The emperor hummed, pulling away a bit. “I can talk to her.”

“I would offer to go with you, but it’s impossible to meet with her. I haven’t been able to get close to talking to her.”

“I’ll look into things.” Nero kissed her hands again, standing up. “You were my master and I love you as such even as I love Gudako now. I won’t let anything happen to you. I’ll help sort things out.”

“Thank you, my emperor.”

“Ah-“ Nero bounced on her feet, that smile radiant even now. “I love whenever you call me that, my Praetor. Don’t you worry. I’ll get on this right now.”

She turned tail, hurrying out only for Hakuno’s eyes to drift down to Enkidu. Her hands moved through that green hair gently. “You were trying to help me there for a few minutes, weren’t you?”

The childish vibe from the being vanished, those eyes gleaming strangely. “You seemed like you wanted to offer your mastery to her.”

“I didn’t want to seem that way.”

“So I helped. You’re welcome.” Enkidu grinned, leaning upwards. Their face was so close, so smooth. It was like their face had been poured on, lacking any flaws or imperfections. Not a pore was in sight upon their visage. Looking down at them, Hakuno couldn’t help but return their expression.

“Thank you for helping me. You were invaluable.”

“Invaluable.” Enkidu repeated the word, almost like they were tasting it. Those eyes closed before the servant leaned against her more. “I simply helped when I could. I don’t know that I would call me invaluable, but thank you.”

“You said you were hungry, didn’t you?” Hakuno leaned over them more. “Would you like to go get something to eat?”

“Ah- Yes! Come along.” The servant hauled her to her feet, grinning. “We should find Gilgamesh on the way.”

Enkidu practically skipped at her side, that long hair flowing out behind them as the being’s hand wrapped around hers. As they walked, Hakuno found that they liked being closer than most. They liked invading personal space, taking up the area wherever and however they could.

She nearly tripped over the being’s feet as they walked down the hallway, finding that they were almost running her into the wall as they walked.

“Enkidu! Hakuno!” Archer moved through the hall, his armor gone in lieu of a black and gold jacket. The man grinned at them both, pausing to drink in the sight.

“We were going to get something to eat,” Hakuno explained.

“Eat?”

“Yes, Gil, you know.” Enkidu moved forward like a tree in the wind, wrapping their arms around the golden archer. “It’s where mongrels decide to live a little longer by devouring things. Weird concept, but I like it. Especially Siduri’s cakes.”

“She always made good cakes,” Archer agreed, leaning against the being’s embrace.

“Should I leave you two alone?” Hakuno crossed her arms, smirking. Had she not seen these two together before, she would have thought them a couple. Lovers rather than good friends.

“Has Hakuno ever cooked?” Enkidu asked the king, ignoring her.

“I don’t know. I don’t believe so.” Gil looked over at her a moment before shaking his head. “We have work to do though, friend.”

“Let’s get to work then, friend of mine.”

The man was going to speak, no doubt to continue his banter with the being when something called out through the hallways.

“ENKIDU!”

The sound of running came, the white jacket whipping passed her a moment before Hakuno saw Enkidu envelope the small boy. The sound of sobs entered the hallway as Enkidu cooed softly to them.

“My little friend… Oh, what are you doing here?”

“I missed you,” Gil sobbed.

“Shhhh. Hello little friend.” Enkidu laughed, cuddling the child to themselves. “I didn’t know there was a third. How wonderful. If another pops up though, I might need to multiply myself.”

“There’s only three,” Kid Gil promised, pulling back to wipe his arm against his nose. “I am the best though. You know I am.”

“Oi!”

“Peace, brothers,” Enkidu waved at the two golden boys, their eyes drifting to Hakuno. “Ah- Master! Meet my younger friend. He is the most adventurous and dream filled one I have.”

“I know him already.” Hakuno moved forward slowly, earning a grin from Kid Gil as she made it to their side.

“You summoned the impossible.” Kid Gil hugged his friend again. “I can’t believe you summoned my greatest friend.”

“They’re our only friend,” Archer scoffed.

“Enkidu was summoned by mistake actually,” Hakuno moved to lean down, wrapping her arms around her legs. “I am happy they’re here though. They’ve been a priceless friend and help to me.”

Kid Gil looked between them, shaking his head. “I don’t want to lose them again.”

“I am not going anywhere.” Enkidu shook their head. “Hakuno and Nero and everyone are working to be able to stop all the trouble that is going on. When we’re done though, let’s you, me, and Hakuno play together, alright?”

“Don’t go promising your time away,” Archer growled.

“Hakuno already promised to play with me later. I am going to marry her soon.”

Everyone stared at him at that.

Kid Gil nodded. “She kissed my forehead. It’s too late. I already told her that she’s taking responsibility. After you all get done with whatever trouble is going on, let me know. I need to make plans. It’ll be so much easier now that you’re here. Having her as my wife means I get you as my servant too!”

“You have a mind full of wonderful ideas, my friend.” Enkidu beamed. “Could you do me a favor though?”

“Anything for you, friend of mine!”

“Food. You remember Siduri’s cakes, right?”

“Ah- Say no more!” Kid Gil released them, leaning up to kiss Hakuno’s cheek and hurry down the hall. “I’ll set some food on one of the tables and we’ll eat together again like old times!”

“Damn him.”

Enkidu looked over at Archer, chuckling. “Don’t tell me that you don’t think the same thing. It’s been written on your face since you let Nero pass this morning.”

The same thing?

Archer lifted his chin, turning. What had Enkidu been talking about? The golden Archer didn’t think anything like that. “Come on,” Gilgamesh ordered. “We’re going to go eat, plan, and then go to the training grounds tomorrow. Ozymandias, Nitocris, Cu Lancer, and Caster plan to accompany us.”

“How fun.” Enkidu looked over at her and held out an arm. “Come on, Master.”

She almost would have simply went along with them, but the servant’s hair… The tangled mass of green was getting stuck on their necklace and arms. It was just too long to be loose as it was. “Hold on.” Hakuno moved over to the being, gathering up the loose hair from behind them. “Your hair should probably be tied. I don’t want someone accidentally closing a door on it or anything.”

“I could cut it,” the being offered.

Cut it?

Even as the servant tried to bring the image about, she couldn’t imagine them with shorter hair. Already a good part of her was with Gilgamesh on this matter. Enkidu was too good. Too pure. Their hair was a part of them and it needed to be protected. No, cutting their hair was out of the question. She’d rather chop her own than see an inch lost.

“If you are bothered by it, I’ll tie it into a bun or something,” Hakuno countered.

At that, their lips grew wide, separating into a knowing smile before she found them holding one of her cheeks in one hand and pressing their lips to the other. “Ah, Master. You’re no different than Gil. Somehow I hadn’t imagined you would be either. I am not as important as my friends.”

Her face burned, hands pressing to her cheek as though to cherish the very affection the servant had given her. “Don’t say that. You’re very important to us too.”

Their eyes drifted to the man leaning in close to them now, his red eyes flickering between them.

“Yes, Gil?” Enkidu smirked.

“What’s this about cutting your hair, Enkidu?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to see what Hakuno thought about it.”

Hakuno shook her head. “I told him no, Gil.”

“As you should.” Gilgamesh wrapped an arm around them both. “Neither of you are allowed to do anything with your hair. Should you try, I’ll chain you down and refuse to let you go.”

“I’ll free you if you free me, Master,” Enkidu offered.

“Don’t encourage her.” Archer smacked the being, directing their path to the dining hall. “The last thing I need is the two of you driving me crazy.”

Heaven forbid he be driven crazy.

Chapter Text

“Enkidu, here.” Hakuno leaned a little closer, stopping the being yet again from dipping their robes into the food. “You’re going to get your clothing stained if you aren’t careful.”

“That’s what washing is for,” the being replied easily.

“Yes, but you’ll end up with sauce all over you. If you like the food so much, it’s easier to just eat it than wear it. At least let me roll your sleeves up.”

The servant just laughed, earning her Archer’s side against hers as the man grew closer.

Madness, pure madness.

How had she ended up in this situation again?

“Hakuno!”

Hakuno sighed, pulling back enough that child Gilgamesh could climb into her lap once more. She had actually appreciated having him running to get them drinks. She had finally had a moment of semi-peace.

“What games do you like to play?” The kid asked, looking up at her.

“I’m open to whatever games you want to play, Gil.”

“Ah, I see. So you wouldn’t mind playing card games or anything like that?” He leaned a little closer, pressing against her chest. “I could have others join if you feel uncomfortable with just spending time with me.”

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem. I’m used to spending time alone with people.” She was getting far too used to having servants hoard her away. If not the servants doing it, the weather. “Just don’t tell too many bad puns. I think I know enough bad puns to last me eternity.”

Enkidu leaned in closer, their plate growing closer to hers.

“You shouldn’t spend so much time with the kid,” Archer growled.

“With me? I’ve seen how you are,” the kid hissed. “You and your chasing around-“

“I swear, if one more servant mentions that, I’m pinning you all up to walls and finishing this meal with my two friends in my room.”

“Hakuno is my friend and my future wife! Just keep your distance!”

“This again? I already possess Hakuno! You’re the one that needs to get it through your thick head that-“

Hakuno stopped listening, her eyes drifting to what Enkidu was doing. Slowly, almost impossible to see around the bickering kid in her arms, the servant was slowly scraping their veggies off their plate and onto child Gilgamesh’s. When they had that done, they slowly moved one of the sweets from the kid’s and onto their own.

“I hate you!” the boy yelled at his older self. “You’re ruining my life!”

“I am!? Look here-“ Archer stopped, staring at the kid’s plate. His eyes drifted passed them, meeting Enkidu’s face a moment before he settled in. A smirk came to his features. “You know what? I don’t want to bother with you. You’re five. You don’t even know how to please a woman.”

“What?!”

Archer pulled her closer, leaning in close. “You know, when you are done with him, you are more than welcome to ask to play games with me, Hakuno.”

“You useless asshole!”

Hakuno shook her head, forking a handful of sprouts before holding them up for the smaller king. “Just eat your food, Gil. Archer’s not going to argue with you. At least take advantage of that.”

“Hakuno, don’t make me eat this. Let’s eat better food. Steak. Lamb. Fresh fruits picked from along the Euphrates.”

“It’s good for you.”

“Enkidu doesn’t eat…” The boy paused, noting that Enkidu’s plate was devoid of veggies. The servant smiled, a smile that almost looked perfectly innocent.

“Veggies are good for you, little king.”

“Enkidu, I feel so betrayed.” The boy sighed, taking a bit of the food and groaning. “They taste so boring, Hakuno. The things I suffer through for you.”

“I appreciate you humoring me.”

“Someone has to eat all these veggies.” Archer forked a handful of meat from the boy’s plate, setting it on his own and holding up a bit for Hakuno.

“You jerk!”

Hakuno released the kid as he went to hit Archer, beginning the start of a wrestling match.

“Gil!”

“You can leave them.” Enkidu leaned closer, hugging her to their side. “I was around Gilgamesh for a long time. He won’t get up to too much trouble with himself. He’s just really excited.”

Excited, huh?

“I don’t know.” Hakuno watched the two going at it, child Gilgamesh biting into his older self’s shoulder and earning a string of curses. “It still feels wrong to let them fight like this.

“Sometimes,” Enkidu replied, “You have to let two wolves fight one another for dominance. It is frustrating to watch and it’s more frustrating to see the egos get knocked down, but it lets them sort out their feelings.”

“Did you spend a lot of time with wolves, Enkidu?”

“I had a master once that was a wolf.”

“Really?”

Enkidu laughed a little, “I don’t remember much of that time. I spent a long time waiting to be summoned.”

“How many times have you been summoned?”

“Ah… Three. Twice by the same being.” Enkidu nodded. “I got excited the second time I saw my one master, but she lost me quickly. Her mana couldn’t hold onto me and she summoned another servant instead.”

“What were they like?”

Enkidu shook his head. “Wouldn’t you rather hear more exciting stories? I have some good tales about Gilgamesh that I could tell you.”

Tales about Gilgamesh?

She was tempted, but the two wrestlers nearby would probably hear the stories and put a stop to them quickly. She really didn’t want to get Enkidu into trouble after they just got here.

“Maybe you could tell me a little more about you?”

The being laughed, their hair slipping loose of the bun it was in a little more. She had to smile at the way they simply let their laughs go. It was just like the king’s laugh.

“I’m afraid,” the clay servant replied, “that I’m not that interesting. I spent the most of my life serving Gilgamesh and wandering the forests of Babylon. The only reason I left the forests was because Gilgamesh sent a temple maiden to seduce me.”

“He… he what?”

Enkidu laughed again. “He did. She was something else too. Cuddled me right against her person and taught me how to be human. Of course, she sent me to Gilgamesh shortly after I found my wolf brethren turning away from me and roaming off into the wild, but I really didn’t mind.” Their lifeless eyes went back to the duo fighting, Archer now holding his child self in a headlock as the boy kicked and screamed. “I find I never really left the wild animals behind, no matter how deep into humanity I went.”

“So you and a temple maiden… um…”

She couldn’t really get her mind off that. Just- Enkidu was so innocent!

“Does it surprise you?” Enkidu leaned in close. “I’m told I’m quite good at what I do. If you prefer certain parts, I can alter myself. It’s really quick. Gil and I would spend some nights testing out my limits.”

“It’s not that!” Hakuno could feel her face burning. She didn’t want to think about what the two had done together. “It’s just-“

“Are you trying to imagine how clay works?”

Her face was heating up at the thought. She looked away before she looked down. She would not look down!

After dealing with Cu Lancer and Gilgamesh, she had some self preservation. Staring down at the being’s body would only end in chaos.

“Ah, so shy.” Enkidu lowered themselves further, keeping her gaze. “It’s really not that odd. I had a wonderful time with temple maidens. Normally, I stayed in the temple of Ninsun or Ishtar. Ishtar’s maidens were a little more hesitant, but Ninsun’s maidens loved me. We spent many nights curled up together in one big pile. Like a bunch of wolf pups!”

“Enkidu,” Hakuno shook her head at them. “I can’t even imagine being able to curl up next to one person for long in Uruk. It gets so hot.”

“Ah, you see, I’m clay. There’s no problem. I keep them cool and they loved it.”

Her mind was reeling as she heard the duo behind her begin to grow louder.

“I’m gonna marry Hakuno! You can kiss my ass!”

“JUST GIVE UP, YOU CHILD!”

Enkidu sighed, moving to stand up. “Give me a moment. I’m going to rescue our friends.”

“Please do.” She needed away from the conversation.

The being moved forward, arms moving to wrap around the two boys. As they started to argue and bicker, Enkidu murmured quietly, nodding in her direction.

“Ah- I didn’t mean to!” Child Gil waved his arms, struggling to free himself. Enkidu held onto him tight as Archer merely leaned back on the floor, raising a brow at them.

“Hakuno!”

She knew that voice anywhere at this point. Her gaze drifted over towards the doorway as she heard scrambling behind her. Three sets of bodies were back at her sides, settling in as she turned to greet their friends. Her eyes drifted over the pharaohs, a smile coming to place despite the deep urge to climb into Enkidu’s lap and just nap there.

Gilgamesh was still trying to get along with his other selves. She really didn’t need another problem on top of the others.

Then there was still Gudako. At this point, she was starting to doubt she’d ever see that woman.

“Hakuno, it’s good to see you upright.” Ozymandias moved to sit, finding Enkidu slipping back into his seat next to her. “…Who is this?”

“Ah, Ozymandias, this is Enkidu. Enkidu, this is Ozymandias.” Hakuno smiled a little. “Enkidu was the only friend Gilgamesh had when he was alive. They’ve been summoned as a heroic spirit.”

“Ah, so you are one of the mysterious new servants that Gudako summoned.”

“Actually, Hakuno is my master.” Enkidu wrapped an arm around her waist, shutting their eyes. “She is so wonderful to me.”

“Naturally, she would be wonderful to any being.” Ozymandias nodded, “since she is the reincarnation of-“

“Enkidu!” Hakuno looked up at the being, grinning. “Why don’t you tell Ozymandias about temple maidens in Uruk. I think he would be interested in knowing how spirituality works for Gilgamesh’s kingdom.”

Archer was settling on her other side, snickering a bit until he found his child self returning to her lap. The boy wrapped his arms around her, snuggling against her chest.

“Hakuno, could you please supply me with enough mana to fix my nose? Archer made it bleed.”

“It’s your own fault,” Archer hissed.

“Do you know much about the temples and gods, Ozymandias?” Enkidu asked the pharaoh.

“I am the incarnation of a god. Naturally, I would be well informed about our practices.”

“Ah, I see.” Enkidu nodded. “Who was your head priestess?”

“Hmm?”

“Your head priestess? Gil’s main priestess for his mother was the elder sister of Siduri, but there were a couple others that stood in her place when she was occupied.” Enkidu continued, motioning and getting the pharaoh to sit.

Thank the universe Enkidu managed that, Hakuno thought to herself as she focused on the young boy’s bloody nose. With Ozymandias distracted, he wouldn’t waste time on arguing with these three about whether or not she was his wife’s incarnation.

She really didn’t need to deal with that again. He was good at arguing.

“Master, you’re the most beautiful and wonderful woman that I have ever met.” The young Gilgamesh grabbed her hands once she was done, holding them to his chest. “I need you to know that. Despite your misfortune with all these other servants aside from Enkidu, I need you to know that you could have two good servants if you said the word. I’m entirely yours.”

Her heart skipped a beat at that, looking down at those deep red eyes. It was so easy to get lost in them. So tempting to just cuddle him close and go running from the room.

“Don’t charm my master, boy.” Archer snapped his fingers in front of her, bringing her back to reality.

Charmed?

“I wasn’t doing anything that she didn’t already want, you rude asshole.” The boy huffed, cuddling against her.

“Master, do you honestly believe this boy is worth any time?” Archer raised a brow at her, turning his scowl towards the boy. “He’s an absolute nightmare.”

“He’s you and he’s very kind to me.”

“Everyone is kind to you.” Archer glanced towards the kitchen areas, raising his voice. “Even the damn chef here would be kind to you if he had the gall to show his face to you. Although it seems the only thing he’s useful for is cooking meals far grander than normal when you approach the dining hall!”

The sounds of pots and pans crashing could be heard as Hakuno smacked him.

“Stop that! I’m sure the chef is a wonderful person.”

“You’d know if you saw him. He’s a mess of a person. A faker.”

“So Hakuno is in danger from the other master here?”

Hakuno and Archer paused, looking over at Enkidu and Ozy. How the topic had turned around to be about the present, she wasn’t exactly sure, but the pharaoh was nodding.

“Allow me to explain once I return from getting something to eat. Would you like something, my clay friend?”

“Get me some of the cake, please.”

The pharaoh, like all of them, simply beamed at the clay being. “I would be honored to allow something of the gods to be treated this time. Wait here a moment.”

“How odd,” Archer murmured. “The pharaoh doesn’t even get Nitocris things when he normally eats here.”

“Enkidu,” Hakuno leaned a little closer, rolling her eyes as she found the other’s hair bun destroyed. This servant and having their hair everywhere- she focused on fixing it as she spoke to the clay being. “Don’t ask too many questions right now. We don’t know who is listening here.”

“Is there that many enemies?” Enkidu looked around at the nearly empty dining hall, eyeing the hooded woman in the corner who was reading and the blonde woman in another corner, dressed in a dark dress and currently devouring what had to be the fourth or fifth helping of food.

“Right now, we know there’s two.” Hakuno murmured. “Cu Berserker and Lancer Bathory. Cuserker was the one that tossed me in the rayshift room and-“

“He was the one I attacked until I found you were gone and that other servant came in.”

“Yes, that’s him.”

“He won’t be a problem.” Enkidu murmured, moving to rub her back gently. “I’ll take care of him.”

“We will take care of him together,” Hakuno replied, hugging a very content young Gilgamesh in her arms once she was done. Enkidu’s hair bun was much more tightly bound this time. Perhaps it would last more than five minutes. “What’s important is that we get the chance to find out why Gudako is attacking me.”

“Why is she attacking you?”

“Hakuno is a talented mage,” Archer pointed out. His gaze flickered between them. “I warned her when I brought Hakuno here that other servants would be interested in her and that she needed to keep them at a distance.”

“Do you think she is mad about that?” She hadn’t known about that.

“Eh,” the man shrugged, wrapping an arm around her and flicking his younger self’s forehead. “I doubt it. Gudako doesn’t really care what happens in Chaldea with servants too deeply. Servants disappear sometimes. She used to ask about it in the beginning, but now she just accepts it. A few lost to you wouldn’t mean anything to her more than the disappearances do.”

“Right… Well, the fact remains that I haven’t been able to meet with her because something or someone keeps me from trying.”

Again, the man shrugged. “You were injured and then Gudako went through a severe training and then a singularity. I don’t really see the opportunity presenting itself so easily.”

“I could have written a note. Or when she released you, you could have asked her to meet with me. I could have had five minutes-“ she was arguing with someone who wouldn’t let her win. She wasn’t sure why she was trying so hard. “Nevermind. The point is, now it seems that she has two servants trying to attack us and one mentioned BB.”

“Who’s BB?” Enkidu asked.

“She’s a plague to general society and a gnat not worth the title lest we insult the populace of gnats everywhere,” Archer replied.

“She trapped Gilgamesh and I on the far side of the Moon Cell and made us go through a labyrinth to escape. She was a pain to fight once and then she found us again when we had the chance to venture out and see the universe,” Hakuno answered, elbowing the golden king so eager to be a smartass.

The elbowing earned her a kiss on the cheek from the boy in her arms.

Enkidu frowned. “She hurt you?”

“A lot.” Hakuno bit her lip, looking down at the boy she was holding and pulling him close. “I would rather not see her again if I can help it. If Archer hadn’t found me, I would still be trapped, tortured somewhere beyond anyone's reach.”

Ozymandias returned, setting the food down, but it was ignored. The clay servant pushed the young boy from her arms and into Archer’s lap, pulling her into their arms. Their embrace was all encompassing, cool and gentle.

She could hear voices, but it was impossible to hear with the clay being holding her. She tried to move a little, but the other was holding her so tightly. Her eyes closed, accepting rather than trying to argue. This must have been their attempt to comfort her, to let her know that nothing was ever going to happen to her again so long as they were around.

A small part of her wanted to simply remain here, accepting this comfort for as long as she could. It just felt familiar.

Had Enkidu held her like this before?

She couldn’t remember being held in such a way, not during their time together. They had caught her and brought her back to Gil’s room. They had hugged her a little, but nothing like this.

She felt their face against hers, that smooth cheek against her own.

“I said I would protect you,” they murmured. “I truly mean it. Whatever you want to do, Hakuno, even if it means being away from anyone that wants you… You just need to command me.”

“You’re wonderful, Enkidu,” she murmured back.

She wouldn’t hurt anyone so needlessly, but she appreciated their words. If they found things to be getting impossible here or that BB came to this place, they could always escape.

“Hakuno.”

“What’s wrong, Enkidu?”

The being’s lips pressed against the corner of her mouth, licking at her face a moment before they pulled back. A grin came to their face. “You had chocolate sauce on your face.”

“Enkidu! You could have just told me!” She moved away, face heating up as Archer and his young self laughed behind her.

“I can’t believe I didn’t notice!” Child Gil whined, “come here, Hakuno. We’re going to eat cake together!”

“Absolutely not! Finish your veggies! And you, Enkidu! Don’t think I didn’t notice that you didn’t eat yours either.”

The being paused, looking away. “I’m not hungry.”

The pest!

“Enkidu! None of us are leaving until you both eat! You and child Gil!”

“You’re sure this is your wife’s reincarnation,” Archer asked the pharaoh across from them.

“…Descendent at the very least,” the pharaoh murmured. "I could not see my wife demanding we eat."

Speaking of the two kings, Hakuno pushed some of the vegetables onto the others plates, watching the hackles already rise with both men.

"You need to eat as well. Set an example," she ordered.

Healthy eating was going to happen if they liked it or not.

Chapter Text

There was no doubt Caster had felt he had needed to wait a while before returning to Archer’s chambers.

He knew who was in the room with him and Hakuno. He had seen the head of green hair, felt it coming the moment that Hakuno had asked of a green haired servant.

And he hated it.

Enkidu had deserved rest, an afterlife filled with peace amongst Ereshkigal’s finest. Rather than that, they had ended up in the holy grail wars. How many servants had they fought? How much pain had his friend needed to endure?

Caster inched the door open, peering in to see the clay servant leaning over Hakuno’s person.

“Please only sleep for a while, Hakuno. I don’t care for it.” The being leaned in closer, their voice barely audible from where he stood. “I don’t want to see you cry again.”

The being stroked her hair more, biting their lip as they simply waited.

“Enkidu.”

The green haired being looked over now, holding their master in their arms as Archer kept his body wrapped around them both. The being motioned him over, smiling lightly. “I wondered why you did not visit me sooner. I had hoped you would talk to me when Nero had come.”

“I have nothing much to say to you,” Caster replied. He settled on the edge of the bed, stroking their master’s hair as he looked into the other’s green eyes. “I merely came to ask your thoughts on our master.”

“My thoughts?”

“You have been in the realm of the gods, dreamed of your own death and of triumph against the worst. I have no doubt in mind that you have formed opinions and decisions based on your impression of her. You always did have a mind of your own when it came to anyone we worked with. Nippur and Enkur diplomats, princesses and princes from abroad. You were the one who helped me learn more of the gods.”

“You always assume you are first to everything.” The being mocked lightly. “I know I feel something more from her than before… I assume she drank that of immortality?”

“Archer had a moment of weakness,” Caster confirmed.

Enkidu nodded, stroking Hakuno’s cheek now. “I feel the changes in her. Whatever the man had been thinking, it’s smart. She was going to die when I was brought about. I could sense I didn’t have long if nothing happened. Had Berserker not sent her off, I would have given her a few minutes. Maybe less.”

“And now?”

“Now,” Enkidu leaned over her, their hair blocking the view before they pulled back again. “It is as the gods had predicted. She won’t die, but something’s not right around here. When she summoned me before, we had the doctors to deal with, but here-”

“The last time she summoned you?” What was he talking about?

Enkidu shook his head, stroking the woman’s hair more. “It’s nothing. If she does not remember, then I won’t make her. I think we should take her far from here and its lifeless lands before we have to spend too long amongst foes.”

“I agree with you, Enkidu.” Caster nodded. “I assume Archer has discussed the situation?”

“Nero talked about it for a few minutes with Hakuno and Archer you was more than happy to mention a few things. I think that the master, Gudako, is either asleep, unknowing, or missing. Meanwhile, her servants are roaming loose and creating a situation where our master feels she is going to be attacked.”

Gudako unknowing; Enkidu knew nothing of the woman’s ability to take sides. “Explain your reasoning about the master.”

“Hakuno explained to me, while she was protecting my hair from getting food in it and making us all eat, that she has never met this Gudako woman. Along with that, she said that Archer was released to her by Gudako. Someone wouldn’t release your powerful self to someone they fear. They would send them in to kill her.”

“That’s sensible.”

“And why would she have so many servants and not use them to attack Hakuno? I don’t see someone that you were contracted to being spoken of so politely having the ability to be so sadistic as to want to torment and cause fear in someone they could just kill.”

Again, reasonable.

Enkidu nodded, “I feel our problem lies with someone close to Gudako. Someone who would have reason for wanting Hakuno gone. I would claim Ishtar, but I don’t sense her here. I sense…” The servant paused, closing his eyes. “I don’t know what it is, but it feels like this place is wrong. I’ve sensed mana being drained, but I can’t sense where it’s going. It’s not back to the grail, my king. I think we’re in danger here.”

Naturally, the being wouldn’t sense Ishtar. Archer had explained to Gudako about Ishtar and the woman was once more remaining with Emiya. The man had not necessarily been against the process, but they would no doubt not hear even a whisper of the woman for a good month or two.

As for the mana drain. Caster wasn’t sure what to make of that. The experiments on servants had stopped a while ago. Since Hakuno had come.

He nodded at the being. “I see.”

Once again, Enkidu was proving to be astoundingly logical. He couldn’t deny the evidence either. Archer could have fought Gudako if she refused to release him, but Gudako had command seals. She could have simply ordered Gilgamesh to remove Hakuno from Chaldea. She also could have sent Ishtar straight here to start a cat fight with their master.

And he had needed a collection of clay to make him see straight.

“Once again, you are an invaluable asset,“ Caster informed the being.

“Come here,” the being replied. “You sit there at a distance, being all-knowing and cold. Don’t you feel longing anymore, my friend?” Enkidu’s hands reached for him, meeting nothing as Caster pulled away. “Friend?”

“I have nothing at this point but my master, Enkidu. You should cling to Archer if you require your friend so greatly.”

“Liar,” Enkidu purred. His hands drifted to Hakuno and Archer, petting them both. “I can sense better than anyone the moods of my friends. You always keep a look on your face when you see something you want, but it is fine. I understand that pain shapes all in many forms. I can take many forms as well. I will form whatever mold it will take to acquire your friendship again. Leave it to me. Should we need to fight then so be it.”

“I have no reason to fight with you.”

“That never stopped us before.” Those green eyes gleamed.

“Enkidu,” Hakuno reached up, eyes opening slightly only for the clay being to grin.

“Ah- Master of mine, you awaken again? Finally, you can look up at me again. Are you having trouble sleeping?” Gone was the tone of solemnness with the clay being’s voice. The being’s face lit up, arms holding the woman tight.

“I just woke up randomly,” Hakuno murmured, finding herself coddled to the being. Those brown eyes looked up at them, her arms reaching to cup their cheeks. “What are you still doing awake?”

“I was talking to Caster,” Enkidu replied, kissing her hands. “But you and I can talk in the morning. You need to rest.”

“We should rest,” she told them groggily.

“Ah- I’ve rested for so long!” The being’s smile radiated pure heat, pure admiration. The clay servant was good at distracting people from problems. Caster could remember the being doing so when they had been on their death bed and like this. The being had spent the entire time up to his death making jokes and smiling that smile of his. The gods themselves had made that smile too powerful.

The being continued to distract her.

“All I want to do is stay up all night watching over you and Gil. I just want to hold onto you both and remember that this is real and that I get to enjoy this for eternity.”

Her face flushed, pressing against his chest.

Archer’s voice piped up from behind the clay being. “Then both of you need to lay down properly and let me hold you.”
Caster shook his head at the three. They were all but climbing all over one another. Where Archer failed to reach, Hakuno was there. Where Hakuno couldn’t reach, Archer was there. The two had been glued to the servant’s sides. He had noted that from the moment he had nearly been run over by his younger self to the moment he had assisted Emiya in cleaning up the mess the servant had made in the kitchens. Even when Ozymandias had come, the woman had been too engrossed in talking to Enkidu and being held in their embrace to talk to him.

As though sensing his thoughts, the woman frowned at him. “Caster.”

“Yes?”

“Come here.” Hakuno reached out, beckoning him in.

The dangerous woman didn’t understand. He couldn’t. He couldn’t let himself be drawn in by Enkidu again. He had loved his friend and lost them once. If he got close, there would be no leaving. He had a duty as her servant.

Those green eyes seemed to know exactly what he felt too, the being hesitating.

“Come here,” Hakuno repeated, her hand reaching out to get him. Those tiny hands wrapped stole him away, pulling him in. She didn’t back down with him simply on the bed either. Her arms encircled him, until he was on the clay servant’s lap and in the center of it all.

“Hakuno,” Caster gave a warning, glancing over to her a moment before realizing she wasn’t listening. Those brown eyes went to Enkidu.

“You can hug him too. I think he needs it more than the other two Gils.”

“Excuse you-“

Hakuno kissed Archer before he could whine. Enkidu’s arms wrapped around Caster’s waist as he felt the being’s chin on his shoulder.

“You won’t tell her no if it is what she wants, will you?” Enkidu’s elusive smile was too knowing, too big for simply being intent upon this hug to humor their master. No, they found this funny. They enjoyed the shit they were getting away with simply because they could.

“I have no need for this attention,” Caster told them all simply.

“I hear lies,” Gilgamesh Archer replied, his arms moving to their master’s waist before he pulled her in. “Nothing but lies. What did I tell you about him, Hakuno? He is useless. He cannot even admit his own selfish desires. Although I am pleased to see you are improving.”

Hakuno looked between himself and Enkidu before she nodded. “I want the two of you together for right now. Since we can’t always be in one big group, I’d rather have us in teams of two just in case something happens. I can’t think of anyone I trust to watch your back than Enkidu.”

“I could watch over you,” Caster offered. He couldn’t be placed with Enkidu. Leave it to Archer. The man was about five minutes from stripping naked and having a fight for fun with the servant anyway. The two could maul one another while he ran off with his master.

“Do you hate him then?”

“O-of course not!”

Hakuno smiled, “Then you’re working with them. We can switch around the groups if we need to, but I really think you two need time together.”

“Ah- what a wise master of mine,” Archer purred. Those knowing red eyes gleamed as he began his usual attentions to their master. His hands stroked down her body. “You are nothing less than a gift to which only I could deserve.”

“It’s important for bonding to be able to spend time with your friends,” Hakuno told the man, opting to ignore the man’s selfish words.

Bonding?

Did she not understand how many ways they could suffer if he did that so called ‘bonding’? He could panic during battle. He could refuse to allow the servant to battle. He could stop battling if the other died during a fight. He would stop fighting during a fight if he saw the other go down. What if they ran into Ishtar or someone while training or fighting? Was he supposed to simply look the other way? Forget all the pain she had put them through?

“You’re thinking too much,” Enkidu informed him. The being’s hands were drifting through his hair too much like Hakuno’s hands did. He needed to hold their master, not be held by this being.

“Hakuno,” Caster turned his gaze to her, but the woman was blushing up a storm, already swept away and distracted by Archer. Their foreheads were pressed to one another, the blond’s eyes locked with hers as he murmured away about something or other. Irrelevant nonsense, he was sure. Drivel that would go down like sweetened honey to the young woman.

Unbelievable.

“I make you uncomfortable now.”

The being said it like a statement rather than anything else.

“You’ve been gone to me for a long while,” Caster replied, looking the clay servant over again. “I have no desire to simply give in to my emotions like Archer and Child Archer.”

“What happened was not your fault.”

“It is a king’s duty to protect his subjects. You were one of mine-“

“The gods were fickle. We don’t have to worry about that now.”

“Don’t we though?” Caster sat up, pulling away from the servant and shaking his head. “And what am I to do when you die again, Enkidu? Mourn again? Hold you in my arms once more until your body rots out of my hands? Face mortality? Archer and I could hardly handle the idea of Hakuno dying. Archer went so far as to curse her with eternity.”

“Eternity?” Hakuno paused, looking over at them before her eyes went back to Archer. “What’s he talking about?”

“He’s talking about nothing. It’s nothing,” He insisted. Archer tried to pull her close, but Caster was no longer watching. He moved to the door.

“I will be in my chambers. I have no desire to sit here and allow myself to become too close to anyone else who will die on me.”

“Hold on!” A hand wrapped around his, Hakuno’s eyes locked with his. “What did you mean by cursed with eternity?”

“It is as I said. You cannot die, no matter how much pain you go through, Hakuno.” Caster motioned at Archer, ignoring the warning gesture. “Archer gave you a plant of immortality that ensured it. Even if you are sick or torn asunder-“

“Archer!”

Archer moved forward, passing in front of Enkidu. “You could have died on me, Hakuno!”

“That’s what humans do, Gilgamesh. You lost so much from the Gates of Babylon to save me once. I told you that I wanted you to talk to me.” Hakuno shook her head at him, her arm wrapping around Caster’s. “We should have discussed this!”

“The item was nothing, Hakuno. Worthless and unused-“

“It’s actually a really rare herb,” Enkidu pointed out.

Hakuno was holding him tighter. As Caster looked down, he could sense her frustration.

“I’ll be spending tonight with Caster. You and Enkidu can catch up. Maybe talk about what things are important to share and what isn’t, since Enkidu can tell me honestly what’s going on and let me decide what’s important.”

He almost wanted to point out that Enkidu was more of a closed book than his Archer self, but the feel of Hakuno’s hand holding his and the pull to leave the room was far too tempting.

He let her lead him out instead, taking control of the directions only once the door closed. He was merely a door down, not far. Despite that, the tension felt like it drained as they made it to his door. Gilgamesh took the liberty of lifting his master up into his arms as he opened it.

“Hakuno,” he started.

“Don’t.“ She held up a hand. “Please don’t. I don’t want to hear any defense for Archer. I can’t believe he didn’t tell me what he did. After all the pain I had to go through, to make it so I could never escape it if I needed to.” Those brown eyes drifted up to meet his, “People are meant to die. Maybe not as fast as some do, but in the end, all things die.”

“You are preciously important to us,” he told her simply. “Don’t be overly upset with him.”

“Did you think it was a good idea?”

“…No.”

She nodded, arms wrapping around his shoulders. No doubt, she was still tired from just getting up. “You’re the smart one. You know that there are reasons that one should be allowed to pass on into the afterlife. Sometimes pain or disease can be too great. People can become broken beyond repair. You don’t get caught up in emotion and just do whatever selfish thing comes to your mind.”

Her face pressed against his collarbone.

“You’re so brilliant, Caster.”

It was true. He would not try to feign humbleness or lie. His child self had much to learn and his Archer self was caught up in having any and everything that he could ever reach and then some. Both lacked the discipline and patience for truly making Uruk a powerful and successful country. Both lacked the willingness to listen and trying comprehend without interrupting.

Still…

“I am not flawless in regards to emotion,” he relented. “Seeing Enkidu that first time with you brought back many memories. It’s not an easy thing to see someone after they’ve been gone for so long.”

“I’m glad I could bring them back to you,” the woman replied. “I know how close you two were.”

“I cannot support them though, Hakuno. It would be nothing less than agonizing to watch them die.”

“I won’t let them die.”

“Hmm?”

Hakuno pulled back, her hands going to his cheeks. Like Archer had done before, the woman pressed her forehead to his, letting their conversation be intimate and quiet. “I don’t want to lose them either. They’re a strong servant and they’re your only friend. Out of anyone that we’ve met, I would rather be lost myself than have you lose them. I was thinking of having them at my side most of the time. Kind of like a body guard. We could protect each other while you and Archer protect one another.”

Enkidu with Hakuno as a guard?

He wanted to ask the woman about what kind of history she had with the servant, but if Enkidu had been telling the truth, then the woman wouldn’t know herself about having them as a servant. It might also bring up bad memories.

Better to simply let her enjoy them as she was now.

“Do you think Archer and I will get along?” he asked her instead.

“I thought maybe you’d try, for Enkidu and I.”

She was so sincere with that, sheepish despite her honesty. She told him this as though she knew full well that he had no real desire to spend much time with his Archer self. The other was an idiot, a brute who took joy in chasing after blonde women and fighting.

Caster pressed his lips to hers gently. “You indulge Archer’s whims too often, my sweet master.”

“I can’t help it. I love him and you too much.”

She…

Caster set her down before he dropped her, moving to sit at his unpacked desk rather than stand. What she was saying was absurd. Loved him.

For her to hold such strong feelings-

But no, she had been nothing more than a virgin swept up in emotions from love making from before. With himself and Archer in Uruk, it made a great deal of sense that she would misinterpret infatuation with love.

What’s more, she had run away from him before. She loved Archer. Not necessarily him.

“Caster?”

“You should rest more,” Caster told her. “And I need to unpack this room. I spent far too much time trying to discuss what to do about Gudako when I needed to be in here and overseeing Uruk.”

“Caster-“

“You may rest in the bed. I’ll join you when I am finished with some documents.” He turned away from her, pulling one of the desk item boxes towards himself when he felt her hand cover his. She cupped his cheek to turn his face to hers.

“Gilgamesh,” Hakuno stared up at him, shaking her head. “I actually have some thoughts about Uruk’s running when you have time. I can also help you unpack too. I know we’re master and servant, but I would like to think we’re partners rather than something like that. I would do anything for you.”

So young.

So terribly naïve.

“Hakuno.” How could he work under such conditions?

“I know. I didn’t need to worry about Uruk, but it’s important to you and it’s where you grew up. I think your mother’s temple should be closer to the palace where you live. She watches over you according to all the people, but she’s further than Ishtar.” Those brown eyes were alight, her hands moving to hold his as the blessing of a woman went on. “Also, I think an aqueduct would be useful. I’ve seen pictures of them in some books and Uruk always ends up shutting down on days that are overly sunny. Being able to have people get to water without wandering down to the rivers would mean that merchants wouldn’t have to leave when it became too hot. You could gain so much more with them able to stay and plus the children in Uruk would enjoy being able to help their families more.”

She had actually thought about his people while she had been trapped in Uruk. This woman had listened, remembered things, and wanted to improve life for his people. People who were long dead by this point in time.

“I also found boars near Uruk. Cu was telling me that they aren’t natural for the area, so I think you may need to send soldiers out to investigate if something is going on. Then again, maybe a small search team can investigate. Cu and I killed a lot of them for food-”

His lips found hers before he could process that he had moved. His hands tangled in her hair, mouth exploring those honeyed lips and devouring that celestial voice.

She simply melted in his arms, wrapping her arms around him as he lifted her to carry to his bed.

Forget his archer self.

Forget Enkidu.

This was what he wanted right now. He wanted his master to himself. All to himself.

He wanted to watch her writhe beneath him. He wanted to breathe her in like the air that he held so dear for life. There was nothing he found more important at a time like this than to watch her world become simply him. He wanted to see her beg him for things that only he could give to her.

He was brilliant, in her words. Unlike his other selves, she found him to be a pillar of wisdom and knowledge. She found him to be a voice of reason and righteousness.

“Tell me again,” he breathed, pulling back from her as she now lay flat out against his bedsheets.

“Again… about the aqueducts?”

“That you love me, Hakuno.”

Those cheeks turned rosy on him, but those eyes were debating his reasoning. It was defiance that he saw there. He had seen it all along and fallen for it. No one defied him. No one challenged him like she did. Perhaps that is what his dreams had warned him about before he had met her.

“I love you, Gilgamesh.”

No additions to that statement. No exceptions. She loved him. He looked deep into those eyes and accepted the words of affection. A part of him needed them.

He wanted to personally go to Archer and thank him for this opportunity. The man had given him something unbelievably precious and rare. Far more rare than any jewel or herb of immortality. Archer had given him someone who would love him for eternity, unable and unwilling to die.

“I don’t know what this look means.” The woman pulled him closer, eyes surveying him warily. “Talk to me, Gilgamesh.”

“I have nothing to give you but myself,” Gilgamesh confessed. “And I am not a perfect being.”

“You are to me.”

Did she have charisma? What a spine this woman had, telling him such absurd things.

“Your ears are turning red,” she observed, that small smile coming into view. “I don’t think I’ve ever made you embarrassed either.”

“Hakuno.” He pulled those troublesome hands of hers into his own, kissing them solemnly. “You are never to take back those words. Do you understand? I have done unspeakable things. Experiments. Cruel sentencings. Killings.”

“You are a king.” The vixen wiped his sins away with words, releasing the burden of a kingdom, lives, and lifetimes of work from his shoulders. “No one lives through what you did without doing things that are unspeakable.”

“I don’t regret them.”

“Your people are happy thanks to you.”

“I would do them again if I needed to.”

“And your people would thank you for it.”

He loved her.

Gods, he loved her with every fiber of his being. Forget the pharaoh and his dreams that she was his wife reincarnated. Forget his other self and their bond from time together. Forget the Roman emperor’s love of her and his former master having servants after her.

He would never let her be harmed. Never let her be sick.

His lips moved against hers again, pleading in the need for her affections. She gave without hesitation. He moved her clothes from her person, tossing them to the floor to behold her body in its full glory. She simply reached for him.

When the words began to escape him, he wasn’t sure. His mind was processing every inch of her body. Every faucet of her being was memorized like his favorite allegories. Until he knew every part of her down to the depths of the dimples in her lower back. He found his love escaping him though, his voice almost husky in describing how much he needed her.

“I love you,” she told him again.

Such a beautiful woman.

He wanted to hear her tell him that again and again, until her voice grew hoarse and his body grew fatigued. He wanted to pour his own mana into her, fill her with enough of himself that she was a part of him.

“Hakuno,” he breathed.

She stole his lips, holding him by his vest. Her legs wrapped around his waist. Even as she was laid out upon his sheets, hair strewn about her person, she just looked at him as though she dared him to do more.

His hands moved up her waist, following the slender hourglass shape. His mouth moved against hers. Once. Twice.

“I’m not fragile,” the woman murmured.

“Let me decide how things progress, Hakuno. One should never tell a king what to do.”

“Oh no?”

Cheeky woman. He took one look at those lust filled eyes and grinned, lifting her up into his arms. “Absolutely not. You are mine, aren’t you?”

“Mmm. I’m Archers and yours.”

“You think I cannot compete with Archer? Don’t forget you’re upset with him.”

“I just don’t like when people don’t tell me things.” Hakuno replied. “I have nowhere and no one to call my own. I don’t want to give myself to someone only to find out things after I’ve become loyal to them. Archer knows I want him to be honest with me.”

“Honesty is that important to you?” He pulled her onto his person, making her straddle him as his lips moved along her collarbone.

She pulled her hair away from his face, exposing more of her neck before those hands were gripping at the back of his shoulders. “Your honesty means everything to me, Gil. I trust you completely.”

He would tell her what he knew later.

Everything.

The experiments. How he had corralled the casters of this place to his side. About making servants disappear. About the fight for humanity against Solomon. He would tell her everything about himself and the world he had stumbled upon with Chaldea. He would tell her about his servants that he had obtained while he had been a king.

But for now-

“I want you to ride me, Hakuno.”

“To what?”

He pulled back, hands returning to her hips to position her over himself. He could feel the slight slickness between her legs.

“I want you to take your pleasure from me.”

The woman bit her lip, “Gil, I’ve never-“

“I know you haven’t. I want to do this for you.” He brushed his hands through that hair, showering her in the attentions she had needed all this time. “I want you to know how to take your pleasure from me.”

“I don’t think this is a good idea…”

“It’ll be fine, Hakuno.”

It was his idea. Of course it was a good idea. It was brilliant.

Rather than listening to her qualms, all relating to her innocent nature, he positioned himself more appropriately beneath her. His fingers laced with hers, making her lean over him with those breasts near his face.

Beautiful breasts, he thought to himself. Hakuno was truly a lovely thing. How someone so terribly plain could be so damn pleasing to him, he would never know. Yet here she was. Those breasts that seemed so obtrusive to her chest rounded as she leaned over him, round and plump to his gaze.

“Hakuno,” his mouth was going dry. “I need you to ride me.”

“You don’t need me to. You just want me to ride you.”

“Hakuno, I will personally tell you every single damn secret in this whole damn place if you ride me.” He looked up at her face, lips pressing to one of those magnificent breasts. “Every. Single. Secret. You want to know how to sneak through the hallways without anyone seeing you? You want to know where the grails are kept here in Chaldea? You want to know where Gudako’s room is or where the lesser servants are kept? Say the word, I will tell you every single embarrassing fact that I can think of about myself for you.”

“I don’t need to know any of that,” the goddess simply replied. “If you really want to,” she looked between their bodies, biting her lip again as she nodded. “I could try. It’s just- you’re really big now that I’m looking at you.”

He didn’t even bother to pull his pants down any further than they had gotten during their intimate time together. He positioned himself and pushed in, feeling her body welcoming him in.

A perfect damn fit.

Everything about the way he fit in her was heaven. She took him in more, opting to wrapping those arms around his shoulders and resuming her attentions to his person. Her lips went to his adam’s apple, to his chin. She kissed her way to his lips again, body moving out of instinct.

He rolled his hips a bit, making her begin a rhythm wordlessly.

“G-gIl, it’s um-“

Archer had taken his pleasure then.

He had been tempted to see what all Gilgamesh had done for the woman, but it seemed he had not tried letting her dominate their play. No doubt, he had wanted to feel every inch of this skin himself. He had wanted to know how far he could push her in terms of bedroom play.

There were a few bruises just beneath her breasts, he worshipped them with his lips.

The lithe body before him shuddered, he warmed her with his hands.

“I won’t break,” he promised her, cupping his newfound favorite part of her body in his hands. “You may go faster upon me, my master.”

Her body tightened instead, making him roll his eyes back at the singular bliss that was the feel of her velvety insides trying to stroke him into abandon.

“I’m not sure how-“

“Patience,” Caster told her simply, his hands reluctantly surrendering her chest to move to her cheeks. Returning those lips to his own, he laughed against them. “Pull out and push me into you. Milk my body for all its worth, my Hakuno. Any frustrations you have with Archer. Any fears you have and anger that hides away in your heart, take it all out on me.”

“I can’t-“

“I am here for you,” he argued, kissing her again. “I am here for you and you alone. This is our bed. This is your servant and your body to touch as you see fit. Allow yourself to take pleasure in what you can do to me. Consider yourself a goddess in this bed and make me worship you.”

“I don’t need to be a goddess,” that astounding goddess murmured to him.

He covered those hips with his hands once again. He moved them, rolling his hips again. There was no need for this shyness, no need for this hesitation in her confidence in dominating him. Didn’t she understand? This was hers. This was all hers. She could have any and everything at her command?

And what else could he give her?

She had taken his palace by storm by stealing what remained of his emotions from the heart of his palace. She had defied Cu Chulainn berserker. She had stolen away any hesitation in Cu Lancer to earn his trust and partnership for survival. She had summoned his soul back from the dead, embracing it as an old friend.

Her body moved on its own now. Her hands holding onto him as she took advantage of the situation. Finally, she took advantage of it all. With her eyes filled in that love of hers, with her hands caressing him as her body welcomed him home again and again, he could finally take the time to appreciate this body of hers in return. He could finally run his hands reverently over the smooth skin, noting the small darkened spots here and there on her otherwise pale and perfect complexion. He could look into those deep brown eyes, losing himself in them as he had lost himself in the depths of the Ceder Forest.

Over and over, her body rocked upon his own, her attentions to his person becoming more and more unfocused. Sweat was starting to glisten on her skin. Her eyes closed after a while, blocking him from paradise.

“Hakuno…”

“I… I think I’m getting close…”

He forced those arms over his shoulders, needing to watch her face as she lost herself to him. Every fiber of his being pleaded for the chance to see her fall apart, to watch that defiance make way for nothing less than pure adoration.

“Love me, Hakuno.” He pressed his lips to her own, moving against her mouth in the same way their bodies were connecting below. Relentless, he assaulted her senses, tilting his head to get just a bit closer than he had been before. “I want to give you the world, Hakuno. The universe. Love me. Tell me I haven’t lost you. Tell me that I’ll never lose you.”

“I love you so much, Gil.”

Bright brown eyes gazed up into his, seeing him just barely through the haze of abandon. Her body was already climaxing.

“I love you… so much…”

“Tell me again,” he commanded her. He moved them so he was above her now, taking over their play. She writhed beneath him. Her voice letting out the sounds of wordless pleasure. “Please, my master. Tell me again. Tell me you love me.”

“I love you.” Her hands gripped the sheets wildly. “I love you so much. I can’t… I won’t live without you. I don’t think I can.”

No, she couldn’t.

He stole her lips again, stealing her air. He wanted the kiss that she had given Archer. He wanted to feel her taking command of him as she had done when she had seen the other man under the Babylonian sun.

“Hakuno.”

The words he could say died on his lips.

Her legs wrapped around him. Her body holding him close as her lips took over. Sloppy, novice, but so desperate for him; she kissed him like she had been starved for him. She kissed him like he was the only being on this earth and in this universe that would suit her.

Everything about her gaze screamed of her need, of her plans for him.

“I can’t lose you again. I don’t want to be alone again.”

“I will never leave you,” he swore.

“I don’t want to forget you.”

“I’m going to never let you forget this.” He promised her. “I’m going to make you do this with me again and again, Hakuno, until you cannot walk without missing me inside you. I’m going to make you love this, love what it feels like to be connected with me in this way, so much that you feel lost without it. I swear to you, Hakuno. You won’t be able to forget me.”

She was climaxing again, those shoulders of hers releasing the tension that had been in them before.

His blooming little flower, unfolding only for his eyes.

He let his thrusts quicken, lips returning again to her breasts.

His favorite part of her.

“Tell me you love me again, Hakuno.”

“I love you, Gilgamesh.”

Of course, she did.

“I love you more than anyone, Gil.” She breathed.

He loved her too.

Gods, but he had missed this pleasure. Missed this blissful world of sweaty bodies and passionate lovemaking.

“My body is yours, Hakuno.”

No one else could wake up his sorrow filled soul.

Only her.

Chapter Text

Wasn’t she supposed to be sick at the sight of blood?

Hakuno found herself poised just inside the room, the door latching shut behind her as she stared at what was going on. Gold chains littered the room, blood coated the metal tables and the machines she was supposed to be waiting to use. Her doctor had paged for her to come alone.

Again.

After taking her blood and getting close, his eyes looking her over- Well…

Now she could see her lecherous doctor was the least of her problems.

“Hello little one,” the being had told her.

The doctor had chains coming out of every part of him, his mouth open in a scream or cry for help as he lay lifeless on the floor. Before him, a being with long green hair stood, attired in bloodied white robes. Those lifeless eyes turned to her, head tilting a bit more than necessary. Hands moving at the chains in their hands.

“…Do you know, your magic is weak.”

“Excuse me?”

“You possess magic circuits, but they are weak.” The being blinked, almost inhuman-like in how they did it. As though they did it to seem normal. “Yet something feels off. Like you’re asleep instead of awake. How curious.”

The chains around them clinked as the being shifted, drawing her attention back to the real issue. Whatever he said meant nothing if she wasn’t alive to question it. She had to call for help.

No. She couldn’t.

The nurses all believed her to be delusional. They had listened to the doctor when he had insisted only he could help her stay healthy and with memory intact. They had sedated her, almost let her be touched by the man time and time again.

Even her family was starting to believe that she was out of her mind.

Somehow… Someway… The being before her could easily get them to believe them. Even if they were stabbing the doctor again, they’d believe them over her without preamble.

Even if she did manage to get someone to believe her, then what? More likely than not they wouldn’t believe a word she said. They’d apologize and help the being out of the place. Then, once that was done, she would be shut away and never allowed to practice magic.

And, while her magic was weak, she was going to get better. She was going to prove herself as someone that could study magic. She would prove to her family that they could share the books and knowledge with her. She was capable.

Probably.

That left facing the being dead on.

“My magic?” She puffed her chest out a little, brushing back her hair with a confidence that she didn’t really feel. Assertive people like her family managed to make lower mage families that were just starting think them strong. Despite being a no name family line of mixed blood, they managed to seem like they were more. Seem like they were important.

She laughed a little, raising a brow at the being and putting her hands on her hips. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have been practicing magic my entire life. In fact, I’ve done so much magic in my life, I can’t even remember it all. Too much work. As for the doctor, he was naturally someone who was bothersome. Yet, I didn’t take care of him myself. I’d get bored.”

The being grinned, fangs showing in their face as they took a step forward. The step squelched as they stepped into a pool of blood and flesh.

“You don’t say?” It cooed.

“Y-Yes. I’m very good at magic.” She took a step back, hand wrapping around the handle of the door.

She would escape, claim she saw nothing.

No one would question her for not remembering anything if they came across her or the scene. They’d know she was an amnesiac, with memory worsening by the day. Others with her condition were suffering far worse after all, having no magic to retain even what little they could find important or traumatic.

Yes, she’d survive-

“You are scared of me.”

The thing didn’t ask, simply stated the fact.

Hakuno shook her head.

“I’m not afraid of anything.”

“You’re a terrible liar.” The being pointed out. “Terrible, but your arrogant words remind me of someone.”

“I-I see.”

Looking down at itself, the being shook their head. It’s movement towards her was ended. They moved to a chair instead, motioning her to come in closer.

She remained still.

“Come now, little mage. You just informed me that you are oh so powerful. Don’t let your lie remain a lie. If you must bluff, bluff with more confidence. Never say anything that you cannot back up. Never promise what you cannot give.” The being motioned for her to take a deep breath, grinning proudly. “I’ve seen better bluffs from children.”

“I-I was not bluffing!”

She was bluffing so hard.

Those lifeless eyes closed, smile growing a little more at those words.

“It’s fine, my little mage. I am dying as well, you know. I don’t have a long time, but I don’t want to go just yet. I have not even lived yet.”

Neither had she.

It was hard to not remember things anymore. It was hard to imagine being one moment closer each day to forgetting the world and everyone in it. Each day she woke up, it was closer to that one day she would awaken to nothing but strangers in a foreign land. She would die, unable to remember how to function.

Perhaps she had lived at that point. More likely, she had spent life within sterile walls with nothing and no one.

Her family had already turned away, distraught at a useless heir. Only coming back because a couple still had hope. How long that would last, she didn’t know.

“What do you mean by dying?”

“I am what is known as a servant of the holy grail,” the being told her. “If you look on the bad man’s hand, you’ll notice that they have strange red markings. Those are command spells. He was supposed to help me fight and win a holy grail. We would have been able to make a wish upon it for something that we want more than anything else in the world.” The being shook their head. “Instead, he told me that he wanted to use the grail to make more humans suffer so they would come to him. He wanted to wish for a disease only he could cure.”

A wish?

Hakuno moved forward, looking at the red marks on the other’s hand.

She didn’t trust the being that was talking to her entirely, but…

What would it be like to be able to dream, to have a wish of some sort? She could imagine the doctor having such dreams. He had been a horrible being. The other doctors were little better. She could imagine the nurses with wishes, mostly related to wealth or love. They were so greedy.

Yet she had never thought about such things.

It was painful, knowing a cure was close and death- closer. It didn’t allow the opportunity to even consider having some kind of wish.

“Could I take the command spells?”

The red marks were fading now, making her look back at the servant nearby.

“Green Hair? Could I take them?”

“I don’t know if you could handle them,” the servant told her. “I require mana, something you don’t have a great deal of to begin with.” They were playing with their hair a bit as they spoke, as though already bored with the situation.

“I want to try. You don’t want to die, do you?”

Once more, those lifeless eyes drifted over to hers, staring for a full minute before the being blinked that odd blink of theirs again. Slowly, mechanically, the being leaned forward, eyes narrowing.

“What would you want with the grail, little mage?”

Hakuno paused, thinking carefully…

A wish for anything in the world…



The sound of rumbling came from all around them as Hakuno felt her body returning to consciousness. Something pressed against her chest, sinking in as a voice murmured to her quietly.

“I found the grail… I asked for your wish. I’m going to leave the grail with you. My decoy will keep the others away while the wish is being granted,” the clay being’s voice whispered. “I love you, Hakuno.”

Hakuno opened her eyes, staring up at the canopy over her head as she heard the sound of a pen scrolling across parchment. The scratching slowed, her gaze drifting over to where Caster was sitting nearby, writing.

The man had paused to look over at her, frowning.

“Nightmare?”

“Yes…” Hakuno moved to sit up, shaking her head. “I had thought I was going to get away from the nightmares when I came back here, but I’m still having them. I don’t get it.”

“Do you remember what it was about?”

Closing her eyes, Hakuno tried to recall something. Anything would do.

Her mind was blank.

“I don’t remember a thing,” she answered, yawning slightly. Her body was still a bit sore from where Caster had held her. His grip had been a bit overly strong apparently. She’d be bruised tomorrow. “It was like this the last few times I had nightmares. Cu had to wake me up normally.”

“I see…”

“Hmm?” Hakuno moved to stand up, walking in the nude over to where the man was working. Her eyes drifted over the documents, scanning them just to see reports. Nothing she could help with.

“I’m just reviewing things.”

“I see that.” Hakuno settled onto his lap, earning a raised brow before the man set his pen down. His hands curled around her breasts, holding them in his hands proudly as he kissed her shoulder.

“Do you know, I think I will kill any man in Uruk who saw these breasts in that temple maiden outfit of yours. Surely no one is worthy as I am for seeing them, let alone dreaming of them.” His teeth nipped now as Hakuno sucked in a breath. “I could spend the night doing nothing but holding your breasts and finishing my paperwork.”

“You can’t do both.” Hakuno shook her head. “What if I just remain in your lap while you work and you can just touch me whenever you find your hand is cramping?”

“An interesting proposal.” The man looked back at his notes, almost seeming bored with the idea. Although, his hands were back to her chest, fondling it as he looked through the paperwork. “I suppose… since you are already on my lap…”

“I’ve improved on reading my Sumerian as well. I could read to you if you find your eyes are getting tired.”

“I love you, Hakuno.” The man simply murmured the words, turning her head so he could kiss her properly. “My gods, I love you.”

The words were so warming. She leaned into his kiss, returning it gently before pulling back. She pulled the turban off his head and brushed back his bangs. “I love you as well. I just don’t want you up all night on your own. There’s a lot of paperwork and only one of you. It makes me mad to see you have to do it alone. A kingdom is run by a king with their advisors to take on work with them.”

The man hummed, his attentions turning to her neck once again. She could feel his hands drifting back to her chest.


“Gilgamesh.”

“You murmured Enkidu,” Caster told her. “I don’t know why, but you murmured Enkidu’s name in your sleep. You were crying for a few minutes there.”

“I was?”

Why would she be crying… maybe she was sharing dreams again? Enkidu was one of her servants. It was a natural response for having a servant to dream of their life. Enkidu’s life had not been easy. They had suffered because of the gods. They had died in their friend’s arms too.

If she had dreamed of their death, perhaps that was what the nightmares had been about.

“Hakuno?”

Hakuno shook her head, “Let’s read a few documents and return to bed, Caster. I don’t want to think about that right now.”

She’d let her mind be distracted with something more important.

Uruk.

She pulled the pen into hand and felt Caster smile against her shoulder.

“You’ve become much more confident in yourself since I first met you, Hakuno.” The man kissed her skin softly. “Is it just being more comfortable with me, perhaps?”

“Confident?” Hakuno paused, mulling it over a moment before smiling. “I doubt it. It’s probably Cu’s training on how to be a temple maiden. Hard to be embarrassed after Cu asks you to strip in front of him and bounce your breasts to tease him.”

“He what?”

Uruk was experiencing an increase in décor sales. It would seem the theft of the horns was helping with the sales of bull horns.

How nice to be able to do something good just by mistake.

Chapter Text

“Enkidu?”

Archer looked over at the other side of the bed, watching his friend rolling around in all the bedsheets. Once again, it would seem they were back to this, the clay one stealing his sheets and him waking up without someone pressed against him.
Truly a lukewarm state to be in.

He was missing the last piece of their perfect group: Hakuno.

Perhaps he could have mentioned when she was swallowing the herb that she was going to be unable to die. Perhaps he could also be kinder to other servants despite their deficiencies and annoying habits.

But he hadn’t and he wouldn’t.

“Why are we getting up early,” the clay servant whined. “I was having a nice dream about cuddling Hakuno and your mom’s temple maidens. They had all decided it was too hot in Uruk and found that clothing was a burden. I was finally around people who thought that clothes should be burned.” The being pulled the sheets closer. “You’re so cruel to your friends sometimes, my king. Give me a bit more time to rest.”

“You could hug the real Hakuno if you got up.”

He was more than ready to drag her away from Caster already. The damn idiot took advantage of her being upset and dragged her out. No doubt, he was probably boring her to tears and having her file paperwork or something.

Enkidu slowly moved to sit up, hair hovering in the air a little as they glanced his way. “Alright… I suppose if you put it that way…”

“Your hair is a mess.”

“And yours is short.” Enkidu moved forward, grinning a little. “You should grow it out. I think Hakuno would like it.”

“She finds my hair to be fine.”

“Maybe,” Enkidu grinned more, holding their hair over his king’s head like it was the other’s instead of their own. “But I want to see what she would do. It might be fun to see. She seems rather fond of you.”

“It’s only natural. I am someone of great power. She is a powerful mage in her own right. The two are a natural match for one another.”

“That’s true, I guess. Why would she want me then?”

“Because you are my right hand. My best friend and my brother. It’s only natural she would want to have what could only be the greatest companion to have ever existed to be with her and myself. I commend her thinking on that part.”

“Ah, so arrogant. I missed this.” The being slouched, looking towards the door. “I really did miss this, but I don’t want to get up. It’s cold in this place. Everything feels so dead too. I don’t care for it.”

“We’ll go somewhere bursting with life and heat today then. I informed our fellow servants that we wanted to train today.”

Still, the clay one remained in place. “It’s so cold though, Gil. Do you really think we need to get up?”

“Hmm…” They had a point. Their room was colder than it should be.

Climbing a bit closer, the other cuddled against his side, bringing the sheets with them. “Maybe we could send someone to get her… and maybe some food. I don’t want her to be hungry when she gets here. She needs energy.”

“She does.” Archer laughed a little. “No need for useless mongrels though! She will be with Caster. She’s too loyal to run off on her own. We will call her to us with a phone.”

“A brilliant king,” Enkidu exclaimed, falling back against the pillows. “Call our lady master to us and ask she bring food.”

He had a phone around here somewhere for this kind of thing. Probably in his nightstand. They had been Gudako’s idea, since she didn’t want to waste command spells and other servants’ time by having them all run around after one another. Naturally, her own phones were always being destroyed, causing Gudako to need to use others’ for calling. Plus, she still ended up using commands most the time since a majority of the servants were a bit… unfit for phones, but it was fine.

The thing was buried under a thousand different pairs of sunglasses, almost dead now that he was looking at the thing.

Still, it would work. He flipped through the contacts and waited, listening to the call going through as Enkidu curled up closer.

“What is it?”

Caster’s brisk tone met his ear, the sound of slapping loudly going on in the background. As he listened, he could hear it slowing, a low murmuring going on in the background.

“It’s fine,” Caster told someone. “Continue your ministrations.”

“Where is Hakuno?”

“With me,” Caster replied to him. “What do you want?”

“I want to talk to her.”

A sigh met his ear, filling his ear with the sound of static before- “Could you wait a bit?”

His gaze narrowed as he looked ahead of himself. “If you are touching my Hakuno, Caster-“

“Hakuno,” Caster’s voice was no longer speaking to him, opting for less painful ventures. “It is Archer. He wishes to speak to you if you are available.”

If she was available?

Was he to beg for her time? What was this?

“Gil?”

The sweet little voice came to the phone, the sounds in the background stopping.

“You are touching Caster right now, aren’t you?”

“Did you feed me an immortality granting item without telling me?”

Of course he had.

“Enkidu misses you.”

“I do,” Enkidu agreed at his side. “Bring food,” they called.

“I hear them,” Hakuno replied, a laugh escaping her. “They’re always so hungry, aren’t they?”

“I don’t actually remember.” Archer glanced down at the being. “Normally they spent a lot of time with the temple maidens. They enjoy close contact and indulging. I was asking you to come back to our room. The room is cold and our bed is lacking in sheets. The sheets are your fault. Enkidu is a hoarder and you have to take responsibility.”

Hakuno was quiet, the sound of something happening on the other end catching his attention.

“…Is he touching you right now? As I talk to you!?!”

“Archer,” Hakuno’s voice wavered slightly. “I’ll be right there… with more sheets. You have sheets on the ceiling. I’m surprised you don’t pull them off and use them.”

“Those are not sheets, those are fabrics. They are décor, Hakuno!”

She was wandering off, enjoying the pleasure of someone else and leaving him to grow cold. What was she thinking? Did she find this acceptable? Was he to be calling Nero and her old servants over the next millennia to bid his master to come back to him?

“Hakuno!”

“I’m coming!” Hakuno’s voice went a bit higher, stopping his argument. “I’m going to be right there. I’ll send Caster to bring some food to our room.”

“I want to do whatever he has done with you when you return.”

“Are you sure?”

“Unless it was simply reading.” He wasn’t going to bore his friend with them reading in his room. Enkidu had better things they could be doing with their time.

The being was curling up against him further, tugging at his arm. “The food,” they whispered.

“Hakuno is making Caster bring it,” he hissed back before turning his attention back to his faithless master. “Tell me what he has done.”

“Ah- He…” Hakuno faltered on the other end.

“What did he do, Hakuno?”

“Well, we did kiss.”

Unacceptable.

“And then, we um… He had me climb onto his lap and he went inside… me…”

“Hakuno, your shyness is normally bearable only by a marginal amount. Say what he has done already.”

“I rode him.”

Rode…

Gilgamesh laughed, head tilting back as he let out a bark of laughter. So his Caster self was unable to dominate over bedroom play? He had to ask Hakuno to ride him because of his incapability? Was he so inept that making her find her own pleasure was all he could do?

“It’s not that funny,” Hakuno whimpered.

“Ah, come back to me, Hakuno.” Gilgamesh wiped at an eye. “If you had been so in need of attention, you merely needed to say so. Enkidu will be fine with us. We have shared women in Uruk. I share you with them as a master.”

“I’m not having- Doing that with them! That’s rude!”

“Hold on,” Archer looked over at Enkidu. “Enkidu. Do you mind having sex with Hakuno with me?”

“Sex with Hakuno?” Enkidu hummed, leaning back against the sheets. “Does she have preferences? I know I can mold my body a bit, but if she has preferences-“

“Enkidu wants to know if you have preferences.”

“What?!” Hakuno screeched. A new emotion, he thought to himself, smirking.

“Nevermind. I’m going to tell them you prefer male parts for now. We still want blankets when you return to us.”

“Gilgamesh! I’m not going to have sex with my servants!”

“You already do, my little master.” Archer grinned a little more. “Besides, Enkidu is my friend. You will enjoy our company far more than Caster.”

“I enjoy all of your company, Caster included.”

The phone was gone before he could laugh at her for that, Enkidu’s hands wrapping around the thing as they took over the call.

“Hakuno…” They paused as the sound of Hakuno’s frantic voice came from the other end of the phone. It was hard to discern what the woman was saying, but the clay being nodded. “I know. You’re too shy for sex after a day. Give us a few years- Ah, anyway. Gil and I miss you and Gil had nightmares. Come back to our room.”

Nightmares?

He had suffered no such thing as he had slept! What the hell was the clay being on about?!

“You did as well?” Enkidu frowned, “That’s no good. Did you sleep with someone last night?”

Of course she had. She just admitted that she slept with Caster.

“You didn’t? That’s not good.” The being shook their head, running a hand through their hair. “I heard that you need to sleep with someone when nightmares come. Stress and fears can only be relieved when in the arms of someone you love.”

Caster hadn’t…

What the hell had he done when he had finished with Hakuno? Worked?!

Of course he had. Archer could already see his boring self returning to paperwork, riffling through them as Hakuno had suffered from bad dreams in his bed. Rather than comforting her, he had focused on his work and helping their people.

He was just like that useless Saber, worrying over their people instead of letting the people do what they needed to. There was no proper ruling going on with him babysitting his people.

Such a useless excuse of a king. A useless version of himself.

“She wants to talk to you again,” Enkidu told him, holding out the phone.

“Hakuno?”

“I might come to rest with you two for a while,” Hakuno told him. “I didn’t sleep well last night.”

Archer pressed his lips to the clay being’s forehead, grinning as he heard her admit her lack of proper rest. “I see.”

“Do you want anything in particular for breakfast? I am thinking of asking Caster to go with me to the dining area to get some things. I am going to ask Ozymandias, Nitocris, and Cu Chulainn to wait for going to the training grounds.”

“Have Caster tell them that you are not going to go. Enkidu and I are open for whatever foods you find suitable.”

“Alright… Do you think you’ll want to rest with me?”

He was already hugging the servant at his side to himself, enjoying the concern he heard in that voice. Such brilliance could only come from someone as reliable and perfect as the god created being. “I suppose I could keep you company, Hakuno. You need to rest with someone. I imagine Enkidu will want to enjoy moving around and being active.”

“Caster could join him.”

Caster had looked about ready to kill someone if he had to spend too much time with the clay servant. Archer murmured the idea to Enkidu, earning a smirk from the being as well. “He is agreeable to that.”

“Alright. I’ll be there soon.”

Closing his phone, Archer tapped his phone to his chin. He glanced towards Enkidu, watching the being roll back beneath the sheets.

“I can’t wait for Hakuno to arrive back in here. It’s been so long since we enjoyed some private time together. Although, I had hoped her nightmares had ended. I hope they aren’t like before.”

Gilgamesh frowned.

“What are you talking about, Enkidu?”

“Hmm?” Enkidu blinked over at him. “I was just saying-

“You said it’s been a long time, but she didn’t meet you until yesterday.”

“Ah, that.” Enkidu nodded, moving to sit up. “It’s… It’s a long story actually. I don’t think Hakuno even remembers it either so I don’t want to burden her with it.”

“Is she forgetting something?”

He had thought her memories were finally all intact. The woman herself had said-

Well, an amnesiac wouldn’t remember what she didn’t remember, would she? Damn, he hadn’t even thought about that.

“It’s nothing serious. The Hakuno we have now is not the same that I knew.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know how to explain it all,” the being whined, stroking their hair. “Ah- Let’s see. Hakuno was a patient for my first master. I killed him and then she walked in. She was really scared, but she had this funny line she told me when I questioned her. I thought she was fun. Then she became my master and I got us the grail…”

“You were Hakuno’s servant? Her first?”

It felt like something anyone would remember. Enkidu was… Enkidu. The perfect being. There was no good way to forget them. He knew, he had tried for so long.

“She was weak.” Enkidu told him. “Really, truly weak. That’s why the grail was so important. I guess something made her again so she could live.”

“So you spent time with her?”

“We were together for three years.” Enkidu smiled. “I taught her some Sumerian and mostly told her stories while she was trapped in the hospital.” The look on the being’s face fell. “…Do not give me that look, my friend. You would not have enjoyed that time. She suffered. Alone and lost, she just waited in beds most the time. No one let her go outside or study magic. They didn’t let her cry or argue. She just had to lay there and let whatever tests they wanted to do be done. They put her to sleep so many times. I thought I would be stuck to her forever while she slept, just watching her. Waiting.”

Archer frowned, thinking back.

He knew what the being meant by that. Watching her being deleted…

His mind had screamed against the process, allowing the dumping of his treasures to occur despite the woman just being one of his many masters over the years.

“So Hakuno doesn’t remember you were her servant?”

“No, not from before this.” Enkidu motioned around. “I’m not the best at keeping secrets friend, but I don’t want to make her worry. She’s been so happy here with you all. I know she wants to just live with you.”

“Of course.”

“Would you mind keeping this from her?”

Archer moved to lean back against his pillows, sighing as he ran a hand through his hair. “I suppose I can indulge that wish for now, friend. I know she would fear being unable to remember more. The dull background explains why she was unable to remember anything from her youth.”

Her life had bored her to death.

“I am, however, impressed that you won a grail with her despite her being weak.”

Enkidu smiled, something off in the way they performed the action. More secrets. “Hakuno is strong. I knew she would somehow make it to you. My dreams told me of your meeting. I merely helped her get to you.”

As one would want their right hand friend to do, Archer thought. He hugged his friend close, mulling over what the servant had told him. A living doll of sorts. Unable to do magic or anything.

Perhaps he would indulge his master a bit more today. He was in a giving mood, even more than normal since she had brought his friend to life and showed allegiance to him so nobly. Truly, nothing had pleased him more than seeing her settle beside himself and Enkidu, fussing over them both as they ate. Her attention had focused only on them. Her laughs and smiles had been for them only.

“You’re daydreaming of Hakuno,” Enkidu murmured.

“I’m debating on how to indulge our master, Enkidu.”

“Ah, a classic response from the king. I think we should nap with her.”

“I didn’t actually mean to share her with you, friend. Not in that way.” While they had shared women before, he was not one for sharing Hakuno.

The being laughed, “I had a feeling that was the case. It was funny to listen to her panic though. Did you also imagine her blushing? I hope we can embarrass her like that when she’s with us.”

A knock came to the door before he could respond, the woman peering around the door as it opened to see them in bed.

“Hakuno!” Enkidu beamed brightly, holding their arms open as the woman entered with trays in hand. Behind her, Archer could see Caster and Cu Lancer following them in.

“Good morning, Enkidu. Archer.” Hakuno glanced back at the men behind her and shook her head. “Just set the trays down and get back to work please. I don’t want to discuss this right now.”

“I think Archer should know.”

Archer frowned at Caster’s comment.

Hakuno shook her head. “I will explain.”

“What are you explaining?”

“Cu Lancer decided to teach Hakuno how to be a temple maiden… personally.” Caster set the tray down and glanced at Enkidu, the other moving to the edge of the bed to head in his direction. “I have things to accomplish and intend to request Gudako come to see us personally. While I complete this, do make sure to have Hakuno rest… Preferably without interruptions.”

“Hold on a minute,” Archer turned his gaze to the lancer. “You taught Hakuno to what?”

“You’re missing out on the fun bits of being a maiden then.” Enkidu swung their legs a little as they laughed. “Temple maidens are the best women. There’s nothing like having your sins forgiven. I sin a lot too. Don’t I, Caster?”

The man just stared at him, unamused.

“I had to get into the palace!” Hakuno shook her head at the men. “Cu was taking the opportunity to teach me how to just look the part. I didn’t actually strip and jump around in front of him.”

Cu bit his lip.

Lies.

“You never stripped in front of Cu?” Archer crossed his arms.

“…” Hakuno looked over at her other servant, the one currently following in Caster’s wake, leaving the room and shutting the door behind them. For her, Enkidu would be no help. Her only chance was thinking the same. Lancer backed towards the door as well.

“I have things,“ he began.

“Don’t you dare,” Archer snarled. “Hakuno! Answer me!”

“I stripped once! It was hot! We were in the heat and I had that sweater dress on! I didn’t strip for long!”

Our of all the times he had been around her, in hot climates, not once had the woman stripped in front of him. Truly, he was learning a lot about the little woman he called his master.

Cu Chulainn winced harder, his hands going over his face as he turned away.

“Don’t give me that look,” Hakuno shook her head, moving forward. “I didn’t strip to interest him or anything. It was hot. I’d never been to Uruk. It was the mid afternoon, you know what that means.”

It was the time when people were inside, unable and unwilling to deal with the sun pounding on them. He himself had complained of the heat at times, sending the guards out for tending to his horses and finishing last minute things.

Glancing to Lancer again, he could see the beginnings of a bruise around one eye. His lip showed blood, but it seemed that it had been healed.

No doubt Caster had taken it upon himself to rectify the issue without investigating how well the man had done in his training.

“Leave us.” Archer motioned the man off.

Hakuno’s sigh was loud enough that even he could hear it. Probably was thinking something foolish again. That he was a child, that he was being selfish- he knew what she tended to lean towards in thinking. After so much time with her, it was obvious.

“Come here,” he told her.

She moved without hesitation, coming into his arms and giving him a relieved sigh. The fool.

“…How well are you able to feign being a maiden?”

“…I had to tell the guards I just wanted less Ishtar for you. They found me funny so they let me pass.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“I couldn’t do much,” she murmured. “Doing that kind of thing in front of someone is embarrassing. I don’t care for Cu Chulainn like that. He thinks himself too funny. I had kind of thought about making him ruin his contract with me once we came back.

Thankfully the man was out of the room. He would not approve of such words.

“Hakuno,” he breathed. His hands drifted to her cheeks, looking into the depths of those brown eyes. Honest eyes, since Enkidu had made his mark so well. He almost wanted to strike out at something at the thought of his master being trapped in hospital beds.

Had she ever lived?

“You have the same look that Caster gets when he’s stuck guessing how to find a solution.”

“Oh?”

Hakuno nodded, covering his hands with her own. “You know, we don’t have that long. With any luck, Caster will be able to get Gudako to meet with us and we’ll be done with this mess tonight. We can do anything we want after that.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Huh?”

“When we are done here,” he asked her, “what do you want to do?”

She hummed, closing those eyes a moment before they opened once more. Her pupils had expanded as she looked up at him. Her smile making his body feel strange again. “I think I want to go traveling with you and Enkidu. Uruk had been interesting, but seeing the world around Uruk would be fun. Maybe visit some of the other singularities or places. I know you and Enkidu enjoy fighting and I think it would be nice to help with defending humanity for a while. It’s nice to have a sense of purpose.”

He leaned in, stealing those lips a moment.

Sweet tasting lips, she had been eating a bit on the way here.

Laughing, he pulled back. “You ate without me.”

“I-I just had a little.” Hakuno scowled. “You woke me up.”

“You were having sex with Caster when I called.”

“Not you physically but- Nevermind.”

“Oh no,” he was laughing again. What was she trying to say now? Had she been dreaming of him? He was almost excited about the thought except for the fact that she had suffered from nightmares. “What are you telling me Hakuno? Were you dreaming of me?”

“Of course I was.” She shook her head. “It’s hard not to when you’re with me all the time. I only got sleep because of you.”

The woman paused after saying that, a closed book, but he could tell what she was thinking. Or rather, he could sense what he wanted to from her.

“So close to pleasure,” he murmured, pulling her in to kiss again. “You can simply tell me you love me, Hakuno. It’s fine. I may forgive your transgressions if you say so.”

“You don’t need the ego boost,” the fiend told him.

“Don’t need…” Was she joking? Here he was, deciding to indulge her whims, thinking only-

No, it was unacceptable.

“Hakuno,” he pulled her onto his lap, shaking his head. “You said that Cu Chulainn taught you how to be a temple maiden?”

“…For getting into the palace only.” Hakuno pointed out. “I tried to learn some things, but there are things that are too much for anyone in their right mind to do.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, there is.” She motioned at her chest. “The biggest thing that kept coming up was showing off my chest. The temple maidens kept showing off their chests and letting one shoulder of their dress drop so their breasts were exposed. I mean, I just-“

The laugh escaped him before he could help himself.

Of course his innocent woman would be caught up in such things.

The lancer would live, it seemed. If Hakuno was embarrassed as she seemed, then it meant that Cu Chulainn’s training had been unsuccessful. She must have swayed the guards with words.

Although…

“Try to tempt me.”

“What?!”

Gilgamesh motioned at the room. “There’s no one here. I’m feeling almost willing to spare Cu Lancer. If you persuade me.”

“I just brought food for us and Enkidu and you want me to do that?” She held up a hand. “I can just use a command spell to ask you not to hurt him. My last one just came back this morning.”

“Hakuno,” Gilgamesh tssked, shaking his head. “Come now. You aren’t going to simply command me to do everything when there are other ways… Besides, I’m curious. You a temple maiden?”

“I’m not a good one.”

“Indulge me, Hakuno.”

She huffed, pulling away before she leaned forward.

He waited, watching her.

“Sir, if you wouldn’t mind letting me pass?”

“I don’t think you’re restricted in our rooms. And I don’t know what you’re doing leaning like this.” He motioned at her again. “Is this it?”

“I told you Cu was a bad teacher.”

He clicked his tongue, heading to the closet for a moment before he pulled out a rather nice box from the back. An indulgence he had found while traveling, although she didn’t need to know of New York. He held up the box.

“Hakuno, try that again in this. Let’s see if it is merely my taste in regular clothing for you that is the cause of your unsuccessful attempts.”

“What’s in there?”

“You’ll see.”

Chapter Text

“Gilgamesh, no.”

It was moments such as this that she could really hate this man.

Lingerie. He had pulled out lingerie. See throw upper fabric, thigh highs that clipped to her panties- Lingerie. She wasn’t sure when she had given in, but somehow the man had managed to persuade her out of the warm, beautiful Sumerian robes she had put on and into this…

This temptress outfit.

“Shall we try again?” Gilgamesh moved to sit on his bed, patting his lap. “Come on now, my little queen. You wormed your plain looks and defiant eyes into my soul. Surely acting the part cannot be so difficult.”

“Gilgamesh. I’m not doing this. I tried already. You saw how well-“

The man leaned forward, pulling her in and setting her hands on his shoulders. She could feel her heart pounding as his eyes drifted lower.

“…Adequate. I purchased appropriately.”

“Gil-“

He held her hands to his chest, looking up to meet her gaze. “One more time, Hakuno.”

It was hard to say no. There was this look in his eyes, in his expression. The man waited, hands releasing her once more.

Why did it feel like he was giving up when he let go?

Hakuno couldn’t stop herself. It was her Gilgamesh. It was her Archer. She climbed onto his lap, shaking her head before she kissed him.

“I…” She paused a minute, leaning against him. “I don’t know what you want me to ask, but please don’t let me go. I don’t like when you look at me with that sad look of yours. It hurts me.” She stroked his cheek, kissing the other gently as she rested against him more. “For some reason, seeing you upset makes me want to be more like you. I just want to fight anyone that makes you hurt like this.”

The man closed his eyes, leaning in closer to kiss her neck.

Was he upset with her?

Sad?

Enkidu had mentioned nightmares. Perhaps he had suffered from a nightmare that had been as bad as the ones that were plaguing her. If that were the case, his games made so much more sense. The man loved to indulge in the worst of ways.

Hakuno kissed him again, her hands moving down his chest.

“Why don’t we sleep together for a while?”

Those red eyes opened, glancing down at her a moment before he shook his head. “I’m going to kill Cu Lancer.”

“What?”

Gilgamesh lifted her up, pulling the sheets back before he climbed over her. His lips pressed against hers. “This,” he motioned at her, shaking his head. “And I had almost believed you could not manage to be a temptress. You are unfair to me, Hakuno.”

“I’m unfair? What are you talking about?”

The man was talking in circles! She hadn’t done-

“You make those eyes of yours go soft on me and say such things to me,” he purred. “And then you tell me you cannot seduce. The man taught you far too well.”

“Gil! You idiot! I was trying to make you stop looking at me with-“

“Yes, sad eyes. I got it.” He kissed her again. The rough, unrelenting feeling made her stomach flutter. Still, she held herself back, trying to force down the urge to blush.

“Gil, let me go.”

“Absolutely not. How many guards do I need to hunt down in Uruk? How many have you seduced?”

“NONE! I TOLD THEM I WANTED TO HAVE LESS ISHTAR!” She squirmed, pushing at his chest. “You idiot, I’m telling you that I just told them that I was Ereshkigal’s maiden and that I was there to lessen the amount of Ishtar.”

“Alright then.” Gilgamesh grinned, moving his hands to the waistband of her panties. “How do you propose do to that?”

“What?”

“Less Ishtar. How are you going to do this?”

She faltered. The stupid idiot was going to make her think of that? “You barely see her… Actually, I don’t think you’ve seen her at all!”

“No, actually I saw her about a week ago.” He kissed the center of her belly, looking up at her. “It was a terrible situation. No wine. The woman climbing all over my armor. You nowhere nearby. Gudako made me go through an entire singularity with her because she was also an archer. There were a lot of sabers around that needed defeated.”

“You had to fight with Ishtar?”

He nodded, kissing his way up her person. The gauzy material she had on was not helping right now. It was too soft, feeling more like ghosting fingers than she could stand.

“Why did you h-have to fight with her?”

Her voice wavered as she struggled to keep calm.

“It was in our agreement.” He shook his head. “An entire singularity without stopping with Ishtar and other useless mongrels. I was not allowed a single complaint. I had to accept any assistance that they provided without complaining. All for simply removing my contract to become yours again.”

“I’m glad she did.” She buried her hands in the man’s hair, enjoying him where he was. She was growing far too fond of the man. But she did love him, even if this one was too egotistical to be allowed to hear it. “I don’t know that I would hand you off to someone if I were her.”

“She has many servants.” Gilgamesh shook his head. “There was no need for her to risk anything by crossing me.”

But she had tried to cross him by attacking her through Berserker and Bathory. The others were talking about it a great deal.

There was still BB to think about too.

“Hakuno.”

“Hmm?”

The man hovered over her. “Stay with Enkidu and I in here.”

“Why?”

“I don’t like the idea of you sleeping alone. If you’re having nightmares, it’s better in my company than by yourself.”

The man was all over the place with conversation. Hakuno leaned up to kiss him gently. “I hadn’t actually realized that Caster had left. There was some confusion on whether they had found someone with the horns of the Bull of Heaven last night and he was communicating with Uruk to let them know that any found were fakes.”

“A lousy excuse.”

“I’ll stay here tonight,” she promised.

It was easy to promise such things with him the way he was right now. Truly, if she had known he would mellow down, she would have probably…

Something hard pressed against her leg.

“Gil, is that…”

The man smiled, eyes closing. “Now that you have agreed to remain with myself and Enkidu, we can get back to better topics. Namely, how you will repay me for all these sins of yours, my temple maiden. I’ll have you know a night with Ozymandias should be the first sin you beg forgiveness for.”

Chapter Text

“Caster.”

“I’m not discussing things with you right now, Enkidu.”

“Caster.”

Gilgamesh could only sigh as he felt his friend following after him, wandering down the hallway after him. The clay being had not paused for a moment, taking advantage of the fact that Hakuno had been distracted to slip out and wander at his side. Even now, glancing over at them, it was hard not to feel inclined to simply accept them there.

But his Enkidu was dead and gone. This one meant little.

“You can speak to me, you know.” The being smiled at him, pushing a bit of hair out of their face. “We are going to be with one another for a long while. It might be difficult to continue to work together if you are always grimacing and avoiding eye contact.”

“Hakuno summoned you by mistake. There’s no telling how long you will last at her side.”

The servant clicked their tongue, “and you act as though that means nothing, my friend. Do you know, I think you may have traded your heart for a stone. Does Ninsun know of this?”

“Don’t bring my mother into our conversation, Enkidu.”

“Caster.”

Again with them. Caster shook his head at the being and turned, pausing at the sight of the flower mage heading their direction.

“Ah- Merlin!” Enkidu rushed passed, wrapping their arms around the mage as the man laughed and returned the gesture.

“Enkidu! My clay friend! What is this?!”

“I found Hakuno!” Enkidu pulled back, beaming. “Isn’t it great? I told you that I would find her. It just took a little longer than necessary.”

“I see. I see!” Merlin laughed again, looking them over. “I’m surprised she isn’t with you now. Was she worried about you?”

“She was once she realized she had me.” Enkidu shook their head. “I found her in the hall and we wandered to Gil’s room… The Archer one. Anyway, she doesn’t remember anything and I wanted to make sure that our conversation stayed private.”

“A private conversation between friends such as ourselves is vital! I will not say a word, you have my word as a member of King Arthur’s court!”

“Wonderful.”

Gilgamesh just stared at the two.

Enkidu had become close to the mage of flowers? Did they not realize the other was an untrustworthy figure? The man had brought nothing but trouble to his court during the singularity of Uruk. He had been a particular thorn in his side when he had been summoned to Chaldea. Truly, he could not think of many other servants that had bothered him so deeply.

“Gil.” Enkidu grinned over at him, motioning him forward. “Meet my newer friend Merlin. He is fun. I almost told Hakuno that we were discussing body parts and the struggles of being clay when we were together.”

“You did?”

“Almost,” Enkidu told the flower mage. “I caught myself last minute. Not to worry.”

“Ah, good. Already so few trust me in this place.” Merlin beamed at the clay before glancing over at him. The smile of a troublemaker. Without a doubt. “Do you have something you are doing, my mage king?”

“I was going to attempt to speak with Gudako.”

“Impossible, I’m afraid.” Merlin shook his head.

“Why is she so hard to talk to.” Enkidu sighed, “I wanted to speak with her too. I had hoped to allow Hakuno and her to speak. Hakuno was so nervous about all the servants and Gudako is so talented with all her servants.”

“She’s quite talented, yes.” Merlin nodded.

“It seems reasonable to have Hakuno talk to her, just for a while. I thought they could truly bond over having to deal with stubborn servants and all the issues between servants. Gudako keeps hers so well in line.”

Gil leaned against the wall, waiting.

He had almost forgotten how talented Enkidu could be when they put their mind to a challenge. Something like using their so called friendship with the flower mage in this manner was nothing to them. They could bend diplomats into ratting one another out. He could soothe the broken heart of fair maidens who wished to demand his hand in marriage.

Truly, charisma was something he had never considered when thinking about his friend, but the other had a knack for this kind of thing. His talents changed like the direction of the winds.

“I don’t know if that would be a good plan,” Merlin tried.

“You don’t?” Enkidu tilted their head. The innocent persona out in full force.

“Gudako originally had Archer as one of her servants. Another few are thinking of having Hakuno as their master as well.”

Enkidu sighed. “How sad. It must have been hard to lose Gilgamesh. He’s a priceless friend and a strong hero. But she has you, my friend. I cannot think of a better servant to have on their side than someone such as yourself. And- well- Hakuno is still so unaccustomed to multiple servants. She seems so nervous to battle with us. I think she’d keel over at the very idea of having to command us.”

“I understand. She was quite meek when I met her the one time,” Merlin agreed. “I wish I could help you, my friend, but- well… She summoned a handful of new servants and hid away. I have been unable to contact her since then. Even the children around Chaldea have been unable to spend time with her. We’re not sure what is happening, but since the singularity, she’s been hoarded away.”

“Is she sick? Hakuno and I could make something to help. I’m sure Gilgamesh has something to speed up the healing process!”

So frantic.

Gil watched the flower mage smile fondly to the clay being, patting their shoulder.

“Fear not. She’s not sick, merely… preoccupied. For some reason, Bathory and Cu Berserker have guarded her doors since her return and summons. Something has been blocking us all from even really sensing her.”

“I don’t like that,” Enkidu whined. “How do you know she is okay if she is hiding? If you cannot sense her, how will you know when she needs attention and comfort?”

“You are the most pure being that I have ever met!” Merlin grinned at them. “I will look into the matter. Hakuno and Gudako would be grand friends if they met. Allow me the opportunity to speak to her as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Her chambers are not far from mine.”

“You would do that for me?”

“Enkidu, I would do anything.” Merlin laughed, turning away. “Give me time. When she becomes available for speaking to, I will find you and Hakuno.”

The mage hurried away, heading back towards the direction of Gudako’s chambers.

“You are as strategic as ever, Enkidu.” Gil told them.

The being looked over at him a moment, their eyes lowering before they closed their eyes. “I was entrusted to look out for you, my king. That has always been my overall goal. Finding Hakuno, I found someone who would be able to argue against you. She withstood so much pain. She handled so much tragedy and suffering without giving in.”

The being shook their head.

“That’s not quite it though. I can’t say I do this for you anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Gudako is what’s wrong. If she is unable to be reached according to Merlin, who felt like the strongest being in the place, then I am not sure if anyone else could contact her. I want to help you and the others as much as I can. Even if it means resorting to what means we went through when we were in Uruk.”

“You were always talented in the handling of court politics.” He sighed. “Why did you not mention the fact that Bathory and Cu Berserker attacked Hakuno?”

“Sometimes it is better with less information than more.” The being’s arm slipped through his, that smile as distracting as ever. “If he thought that Hakuno was a threat of some sort, he would be less tempted to help.”

“What do you think we should do when we are able to contact the woman?”

“I will leave that decision to Hakuno.” Enkidu glanced around. “Speaking of our time together, I imagine that some of the servants here are under your command?”

Always plotting. Caster nodded, moving them forward once more. “You would be correct.”

“I don’t know what you have planned, but I want to fight Cu Berserker.”

“You want to… Why?”

The being stopped, expression darkening. Those hands of theirs changed, turning to claws as the being looked up at him. “You weren’t there before, Gilgamesh. She suffered so many times. I had to sit there and hide, watching time and time again when they poked and cut into her.” Fangs came to their mouth, their body shaking. “They made her take so many different things. They made her family suffer by needing to get more money and more time to take care of her. Eventually, everyone abandoned her to the hospital. They told her to simply die.”

A cold feeling went through him at that.

The servant went on, voice growing soft. “I waited… I watched and waited. I watched her cry into her pillows. I watched her powerless to stop them. It was all I could do with her. Watch and wait… Every time I tried to push the doctors who wanted to hurt her away, things got worse. I couldn’t come into fruition because they were all mages. They started to sense me sometimes and would hurt her worse. Always, always hurting her.”

“Enkidu…”

“Hakuno is my master,” Enkidu murmured, staring up at him. “She never hurt anyone when I was with her. She never argued about her place. She is a good master who wanted to simply live and fight and travel. She wanted to eat foods from strange places and talk to people who wouldn’t look at her like she was a moment away from dying. She wanted to smile and laugh…I had never met someone who wanted to be like I did. Why the gods had to go against her wishes and make her face mortality before her life had even begun? She never got to experience running outside in the sun, Gil. She didn’t know what sweets were until I gave her something from one of the machines.”

The being shook their head, gaze going to the hallway around them. They rubbed at their arms.

“I don’t like it here. I don’t want her to be trapped somewhere cold and sterile again. If she cries… I… If she cries, I won’t hesitate to break every wall of this place until I can help her escape. I don’t care what ties I create to anyone else. I’ll kill everyone to let her be free again.”

So that was their goal.

Enkidu was relating to her.

Hakuno had gone through what Enkidu had, with circumstances beyond her control. Even more, the woman had been forced to endure it with almost no one at her side. A master unable to even able to wander with her servant.

A part of him had always wondered what the being had thought about being nothing more than a toy of the gods. Despite the time they had spent together, despite their best attempts to be truly free of the gods’ roles in their lives; in the end, they had been forced to face the fact that the gods were always in charge. The gods always got their way.

Even Ishtar.

The being had never spoken much of their situation either, instead simply asking the one time about whether or not they were human. Whether they were worthy to walk alongside him to begin with.

He had almost hated Enkidu for giving up on him. On giving up on defying the gods. The being had not told him about what the gods had done. They had not argued, merely been cryptic, questioning his humanity. The thoughts had haunted him, swirling in his mind when he had descended to the underworld to argue with Ereshkigal. They had surrounded him when he had stepped foot in the land of the gods to beg for Enkidu’s soul.

Him. Begging.

Looking at the servant now, he could see the being that had stood beside him had felt about their life and death.

They had wanted freedom from the gods in the worst of ways.

And then they had been forced to watch that be mirrored again with Hakuno.

The being bit their lip, remaining silent. Plagued as he had been plagued, Caster thought to himself. Revenge for having to suffer those thoughts felt strangely hollow.

The being didn’t deserve the pain.

“I cannot speak for Archer,” Caster began, brushing the other’s hair back, “but I will not fight you for going against Berserker, Enkidu. So long as you leave the handling of Gudako to me, I will let you and Archer fight for the right to kill the beast.”

“I don’t want to fight against him,” Enkidu murmured, eyes going strange in color. “I want to destroy him, Gil. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to kill something so badly in my life.”

“You must have patience, Enkidu. You and I… We are going to do this right. We’ll do this together.”

“We will,” they breathed, fingers wrapping around his arm.

“I will need you at your top prowess. We’ll do this as we did in taking down Humbaba and the Bull. We’re going to prepare as we should and we’re going to leave nothing behind.”

“And then leave with Hakuno.”

Caster nodded, pulling his friend a bit closer. “And then leave with Hakuno. You have my word, she will not live a moment of pain like that again.”

“Your word is law.”

“It is.” He held the being closer, rubbing their back gently. “But do not lose sight of what we’re doing. I need you to continue this path of yours. Use anyone you can to get to Gudako, my friend. Any means that you can find, utilize it. I will support you as I always have.”

“I think Hakuno loves you.” Enkidu murmured against him. “When she came to the room this morning, she seemed like she wanted to-“

“She has already informed me of her feelings.” Caster smiled against the mass of green hair atop the being’s head. “Archer and myself have welcomed those feelings entirely. She is perfect for us. As I would expect from someone who was able to summon you… my greatest friend.”

Enkidu laughed a little. “We’re going to do things she won’t like in order to find this master, aren’t we?”

That went without saying. What she didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt her though. After all, she had forgiven his sins already. She had welcomed him into her arms, into her heart when he had been ready to confess.

She would forgive him for anything. He had no doubt of that.

“Are you hungry?” He asked the being. “I believe you were speaking to Hakuno of food when I was with her.”

Now that Gudako was impossible to meet and Merlin was on the job for getting to her, they had much more free time. He had no doubt that Archer would be busy harassing their master for a while. Which meant there was little else to do.

He would leave the being with Ozymandias or Nitocris and escape these odd feelings.

“I don’t actually feel hungry that often,” the being told him. "I just try to emphasize food to make Hakuno eat. She’s gotten rather thin… except her chest.” The being held up his hands in example. “She’s got great breasts. Reminds me of Ninsun’s main priestess.”

“I don’t want to think about that, Enkidu.”

“You love her too,” Enkidu cooed, remaining at his side as they headed towards the dining hall. “I can see it. You love her and me. How fun. I’m so glad.”

“I love you, huh?”

“You do.” Enkidu beamed at him. “You lie to yourself, but I see it. Beneath the pain that I put you through, you still love me in the same way that I still love Hakuno. Despite all that time I had to wait, I never stopped loving her. Not even for a moment.”

“You have a way of making people sad, Enkidu.” Caster focused his gaze forward. This conversation was getting passed the point of tolerable. His feelings were mostly dead, only reviving for his master. The being at his side was an asset. A way to get from point A to point B without trouble.

“I have a way of making you sad, you mean.” Enkidu moved around him, grinning up at him proudly. “I don’t mind. If I make you sad, then it means that you still feel something. I missed you, friend. You were the only one I spoke of with Hakuno in that time. Every single time she cried, it was you I spoke to her about. You were the patron god I chose for her. The only one worthy enough for keeping her soul in one piece.”

Damn this being.

Damn them.

Caster looked them over a moment before grabbing their hand.

“Come with me.”

“Hmm? Where are we going, Caster? The food is in that direction!” He motioned at the direction they had been taking, earning a shake of the head.

“If I must put up with you, I’m not having you roaming Chaldea in your robes. They’re for warm climates and sunny days. You need to dress properly.”

He was going to dump the useless being with his other self and Hakuno. He was fine on his own.

“Ah, dress properly.” Enkidu laughed. “How many times you and Siduri told me that. I remember every morning, when she would wake us up and demand I get dressed, but instead I would just run out into the halls and try to escape her. Remember the maiden that saw me nude? How funny was that?”

He stopped them, pushing the being against one of the walls. “STOP.”

“Hmm?”

“I command you to stop mentioning our life together. Hakuno’s past is one thing, but do not speak to me of our time together. Not when you abandoned me.”

“Abandoned?” Enkidu wrapped their hands around the caster’s. Gilgamesh could see those eyes narrowing a little as the being sighed. “Is that what you think of it? That I abandoned you, Caster? You, who I spent so many nights telling stories to?”

“I told you to stop!”

“You, who I held in my arms when you felt fear enter your heart in the Ceder forest?”

“STOP! ENKIDU!”

The being… changed. Slipping out from under his fingers in a way that made his heart stop beating for a moment. The being wrapped their arms around him, holding him closer than he could stand. “Does it bother you so greatly, friend, to see me here and know that I am alive and well? Is that what this is about? I died, but I died for you. I wanted to let you live. You, whom was loved so greatly by his mother and whom the gods did not want to have to raise a hand against, if it had not been for Ishtar.”

“STOP IT!”

He couldn’t breathe.

Enkidu had abandoned him. The being had left him to stand there with their body in his arms. They hadn’t gone to Ereshkigal. They hadn’t gone to the gods. They had disappeared, to lands where he could not follow.

True abandonment.

“I went to the grail,” Enkidu breathed. “I was one of the first it claimed, since it felt our power, my friend.”

They were too close. He needed to get away from them.

“Gilgamesh, my friend.” Enkidu held tighter, those claws of his forming from his fingers as Gilgamesh tried to pull away. “Do not leave me. We are not done with our talking.”

“I have nothing to say.”

“You lie.”

“I will not be treated as a child!”

“You don’t want to go anywhere.”

He hit them.

His entire body rejected the reality, his body shaking as the clay being hit the floor hard. He could see the reddening space on the servant’s cheek where he had struck the being.

No…

No, he couldn’t… He wouldn’t have…

“Stay away from me, Enkidu-“

“I was wondering,” Enkidu laughed. “I was wondering when you would come out of that shell.” The being sat up, rubbing their cheek lightly. “I worried it would take longer, but this is fine.”

“Enkidu, I did not mean to hit-“

“You did, but we have always fought.” Enkidu moved to stand once more, laughing as he moved forward. “We can fight as much as you would like. I know it helps sometimes. Helps with the pain. I never wanted to leave you, my king. I never wanted to lose you.”

He hit them again.

And again.

The being took the blows.

“FIGHT ME!”

The being laughed, merely taking another blow as Caster found himself unable to stop.

He just- He had to hit them. He had to beat them.

How dare they.

How dare they do this to him?

How dare they leave him to live a life alone? How dare they smile as they died? How dare they find a master that had been in so much pain? How dare they make him the god that he could never be? How dare they? How dare they?

“I hate you.”

“I love you too, my king,” Enkidu replied, eyes glinting as they smiled the brightest smile he had ever seen. A smile they had only ever given him and Hakuno.

“I HATE YOU!”

“You are a bad liar. Just like Hakuno.” Enkidu laughed again, accepting another blow happily. “I love you despite your poor lies, my friend.”

“I hate you so much…” Caster found himself hitting the floor next to the being’s head, vision blurring. Over and over, he hit around the being now, unable to hit that face. Unable to see anything other than the being smiling at him that one last time. He could see Ereshkigal apologizing, saying that the being was not with her. He could see his mother, apologizing that the being was not in the land of the gods. He could see the gods begging him to put back the herb of immortality. They kept telling him that he wouldn’t ever find his friend again. His friend was beyond death now, they had said.

He felt his face burning.

“I hate you… I hate… you… I hate you…”

“Liar,” the being’s smooth voice purred, wiping at his face. “You are so much stronger emotionally than your counterparts. I really love that about you. You aren’t going to simply let me walk back into your life. You are going to make me work for it… but I think I will like that more.”

“I hate you,” he hissed.

The being pressed their lips together, closing their eyes as Caster felt his bravado break down. His hands wrapped around the other’s face, holding him tightly.

“I won’t… I won’t be able to let go,” Caster breathed. He felt the being wiping at his face again. “If you die again. I will have to die with you.”

“We will never die,” Enkidu told him simply. That smile returned. “You are a god, my friend. Gods declare what can and cannot die. As you have outlasted them all to be in this new time, what you say is how it will be.”

“I mean it, Enkidu.” He held that face…

This face that had seen him at his weakest, seen him break as he had dreaded the fight within the depths of the Ceder forest. This face that had watched and held his secrets as he had faltered as a man and a god.

“I like how passionate you are,” Enkidu murmured, legs moving to wrap around his waist. “Don’t worry, Gilgamesh. I will be here. Whenever you turn around now, I will be there.”

“If you dare to leave my side-“

“You’ll never forgive me and I won’t blame you.” Enkidu smiled, rubbing his cheek a little. “May we get me clothes now? You were correct about this place. It is cold. I don’t want to hold onto you all the time for warmth either. I have a fight to finish with a beast.”

Caster stared at him, feeling something behind them as they headed down the hall once again. He looked back, seeing the ends of what seemed to be purple colored hair disappearing as he let his friend lead him towards his rooms.
He stared down at the hand holding his, his grip tightening.

Never again.

Enkidu would survive.

Chapter Text

“We have no wish to have a child that cannot be treated,” she heard the voices snarl. “Better to put her out of her misery and try again with a new-“

“You know you cannot have children, ma’am. Even if you did, the magic circuits she has are too promising to simply lose. Whatever is left of your line, it is with-“

“Can you not do anything? She is a useless body at this point and you all lost her before. You know how long it took to find her? The Association can just be told she went missing again. Besides, she can’t remember our names and she’s becoming defiant.”

“Ma’am.”

That was… her parents.

Yes, she could remember that. They were upset because she forgot everything. She had been almost free of the hospital apparently. What had the outside world looked like? Where the halls larger than here? She could hear her parents yelling at the doctors. They were always arguing.

A hand wrapped around hers. Cool to the touch, it stroked her hand softly as the voices began to leave the room, the sound of footsteps could be heard stomping down the hall.

“Hakuno… Hakuno, are you awake?”

“You need to listen to me!” A voice screamed.

Hakuno slowly glanced at the being at her side, watching those pale green eyes stare towards the door. A set of claws began to form around her hand, the being going still. It was like they forgot how to be human sometimes. It must be hard to be clay, doomed to be forever perfect and a wealth of knowledge.

Beautiful, wonderful-

“Enkidu,” she called softly. “Do you think… Do you think I should die?”

“Master?”

She looked towards the door. “They’re always like that. No matter how hard I try, they always say things like that to the doctors. They’ve tried so hard to make me get better and to try to find ways to clone me or change me. But I stay sick.”

“I don’t like the doctors here, Hakuno.”

“I don’t either, Enkidu…”

The being moved a chair to her side, continuing to hold her hand as they settled cross legged on the seat. “Do you want me to tell you a story?”

“I don’t think any story could comfort me right now. Thank you though.” She smiled their way. “I just keep thinking, Enki. What if I’m not human? What if I am just an abomination and there’s no hope for making me anything more than that?”

“I thought you had gotten past this argument,” they chastised. “You are more human than me.”

She laughed, the sound making her pause.

Enkidu beamed. “You finally laughed again for me.”

“I don’t know why…” Hakuno felt something run down her face. “I shouldn’t have. That was mean to laugh at. It’s just- You’re more human than I am, Enkidu. You always smile and laugh. You can travel outside or anywhere else you want to go. I’ll never get to truly be free with you, will I?”

“We’ll leave this place soon,” Enkidu promised.

“I don’t know if I want to. What would I even do out there?”

Her gaze had gone to the window before. Clear blue skies. Orange sunsets. Deep blue evenings. Black nights. She couldn’t see a building or the sun from here. Just the colors in the windows near the top of the wall. It felt like this room and the hallways and operating rooms were all that were in this world.

“I want to show you some of my favorite things when we leave,” Enkidu told her, moving to climb onto the bed with her. She slid over to help them, wrapping her arms around their waist as they hugged her. Their lips pressed against her forehead. “There’s so many things out there. There’s a natural favorite, food. You remember the taste of a few things, but there are more. There are butter cakes and forbidden drinks that would make you feel warm from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. There are all these different animals, with claws and fangs and gentle hearts. I ran for a long time with wolves.”

“Wolves?”

“They’re these furry dog-like animals with big fangs and claws. They roam in packs that are composed of their families and they hunt other animals to survive.”

“Did they hurt each other?”

“Sometimes,” Enkidu told her. “You see, real families aren’t about always getting along or always fighting and hurting one another. They’re about growing together in a way that let’s both pain and happiness enter the heart. They protect one another and they love one another, but sometimes they do things that one of the others doesn’t like. For the wolves, they fought one another to find out who was the strongest. The strongest wolf was the one that entered fights first and howled to the others when trouble was coming.”

“I don’t think people work that way.”

“They do. When you have a real one, they do.” Enkidu gestured towards the yelling. “You don’t have a real family yet, Hakuno. You have a painful group of relatives. Don’t be ashamed of that, since it means you will become stronger for a real family. Just remember not to let them hurt you in here.” The being pressed a hand to near her shoulder, to where she could feel her heart beating.

“You’re being cheesy.”

“I mean it though. You have a good heart. I knew it the moment you said you wanted to wish for me to live again.”

They had told her that wasn’t a real wish. The being had come in closer though, telling her how to build a contract and allowing her to take the command spells, now safely located on the back of her neck. Her hair thankfully covered them from the doctors.

Later, they had sat together for several nights while she had been ignored by doctors, reviewing what she could wish for. They had settled on her becoming well again so they could go outside.

But truly, she still just wanted to help Enkidu be free. Whether they wanted to roam with wolves again or travel into the world outside, it didn’t matter.

“Hakuno,” Enkidu called softly. “You know I cannot sense what you are thinking.”

“Sorry, Enki.” Hakuno looked up at them, seeing the being shake their head.

“I will bring you something from outside.”

“What?”

“I want to bring you something from outside,” they told her. “I am going to find the best flower that I can and bring it back to you. I’m going to put it somewhere where the doctors can’t find it, but where you can look at it every single day. Maybe it will help you remember things better. You were improving while I had you free.”

“Enkidu…” It wouldn’t work.

Her family had brought her toys, according to the doctors. When they had cared, they had apparently tried to bring her things to spark her memory. Instead, she had stared at them, crying at times.

“Enkidu, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“So my friend,” Enkidu interrupted. “His name was Gilgamesh. Did you know that?”

“Gigamesh?”

“Gil-ga-mesh.” The being sounded out the name, grinning more. “Get used to the name. You’ll hear it a lot from me. I see that you have forgotten my stories so I’m going to fix that right now. A human must always know who their king is and my king is your king because he’s the greatest king of them all. You see, I was found with the wolves by a woman who introduced me to humanity. When she found out I was made by the gods, she told me that there was one person I had to meet. That person was Gilgamesh.”

“I don’t want to-“

“Shhhh, don’t interrupt. We’re not even to the best part. I already know you love this story so listen close and cater to his image by reacting the same amazed way.”

The being sat up, pulling their hair into their hands and beginning to braid it. “Gilgamesh was this all too powerful king. He had hair more golden than the sun. He had muscles that made even I look weak. Then he had this smile- you would have been so mad at him if he smiled at you like that. Always smiling like he knew something others didn’t. Just made you so mad.”

“If he made you mad, then why did you like him?”

“Gilgamesh was really good with words. Plus, he had a good heart.” Enkidu shrugged. “You don’t find humans with good hearts often, Hakuno. You have to cherish those that you find. His- his was beaten and trained from the cradle to be hidden away. Instead, he showed that smile. That diplomat angering smile that made people go mad.”

She could only imagine Enkidu ignoring that smile like they ignored her lies. The being probably sat by the king on his throne and teased and ignored him until they found the real king Gilgamesh.

“When my lady friend took me to Uruk to meet the king, I ended up running into him in the center of the market…”

Her eyes closed, body leaning against the servant as they continued their story.

The next morning, she opened her eyes, finding herself alone and strapped to the monitors. She watched the heartrate machine show the beating in her chest. The random numbers next to the lines meaning nothing to her. Her gaze went to the door, watching the two doctors outside the room.

“They left her?”

“Signed her over to us. If things go south, we’ll have to just do what the director wants to do. We’ve done so with a couple other patients. It would preserve her until we could-“

“Let’s see what the doctor wants to do. He has a few ideas that might work.”

“I suppose.”

“My only concern is if the family comes back.”

If her family was gone, then they weren’t coming back. Hakuno shook her head as she stared up at the ceiling. Her gaze went to something in one of the tiles.

A small, red thing stuck out from one of the ceiling tiles. It had little antennae like the machines, but they were limp, like they were made like her fingers. Several curved sheets of color were around the antennae, like one of Enkidu’s hugs in the evenings.

A flower.

A small, red flower.

Hakuno bit her lip, feeling the warmth coming to her face as her lips turned upwards.

“Enkidu,” she whispered.

“The family is gone. They were seen on the cameras in the hospital, but they entered Hakuno’s room and never left. Not that they’re in there though.” The doctor tapped on the door. “We looked. They just vanished. Gun and everything.”

“Glad they didn’t manage to get Hakuno.”

“She got lucky. Guardian angel or something.”

Hakuno saw the figure in the corner. Enkidu shook their head, holding up a finger as they held their bloodied clothes in their hands.

“Thank you,” Hakuno whispered to the being.

“Let’s leave here soon, Hakuno.” The being whispered back. “There’s a whole field of those not far from here. I want to show them to you. We will be free again soon.”

“Thank you for saving me again.”

“Shhh, Hakuno…”

“Hakuno.”

Hakuno groaned, rolling into the warmth at her side. Her arms wrapped around the other’s waist, curling up closer.

“Hakuno,” Gilgamesh growled. “Did you fall asleep after two glasses of wine?”

“I told you I needed more food first.” Hakuno opened one eye, looking up at the king. The powerful king with hair the color of the sun. She shook her head at that, sitting up and rubbing at her head. “I had a really weird dream though. I really need to stop dreaming when I go to sleep.”

“When you find out how to do that, let me know.” Gilgamesh yawned, fluffing up another pillow beneath himself. “Enkidu and I have been plagued with them for millennia.”

“See, my dream was about seeing Enkidu in a hospital.”

“Hmm?”

“I know.” Hakuno shook her head. “Do you think maybe I saw them while BB had me?” She couldn’t remember everything. Just that Enkidu had been standing in a corner, covered in blood. She had felt… grateful?

Had they rescued her again without her knowing? Had they hurt her?

“I somehow doubt they did.” Archer lured her in, coaxing her closer by scratching lightly at her back. Her body moved to his slowly. “Enkidu is not really a sterile environment kind of being. We’ll probably have to make the room cozier since we have them around. Otherwise, they’ll start to get agitated.”

“We could find a bigger room somewhere?”

“There are no bigger rooms, unless you count a rayshift room or the summoning chamber here.” Gilgamesh motioned around them. “I destroyed the wall to the original two rooms that this was and made it my own. The back half of this room used to be a classroom, which is why there are two entrances rather than one.”

“I was wondering about that.” She hadn’t seen a second door in Ozy or Caster’s rooms. “I don’t know why I would dream about being in a hospital and seeing Enkidu though. It doesn’t make any sense.”

“What exactly do you remember?”

She settled against the man, shaking her head. “I felt sad, I heard Enkidu telling me about how you two met, and then I saw them later when they were covered in blood.”

“It sounds like you dreamed about them killing someone for you.”

“How do you get that conclusion?”

“You heard them tell you a story about me.” Gil’s hands drifted down her side, pulling her in more so he could nuzzle himself against her. “Enkidu doesn’t care to tell stories about the past unless there’s a reason. Normally it’s when someone they care about is in pain or the other person needs the story because it involves them somehow.”

“Oh?”

“They did it for a month before they died. I did not take it well.”

Hakuno sighed, leaning her head back to stare up at the man. “And the blood?”

“Killed someone for you. Probably hurt your feelings or something and they decided to just take matters into their own hands. You should thank them properly later.”

“Gil, come on. Why would Enkidu kill someone after telling me a story?”

“You were probably hurt by someone and they found out and comforted you before killing the mongrel. Why do you question this?” Archer shook his head again. “Don’t worry about the dreams so much, Hakuno. Just ignore them like I do.”

“What do you dream about that makes you ignore them?”

“I dreamed about you, master.”

“Huh?” She turned around in his arms, staring at him.

“Does it surprise you that much? Hearing me say that I dreamed of you?” Archer motioned at the room. “I had a smaller room before. I dreamed of you lying in here and tore down the wall so my room would be larger. I dreamed of you lying here in this lingerie, looking up at me like I was some kind of personal god of yours, I stopped at the shop that I saw this at and bought it. I dreamed of seeing you cry and hug my friend, I brought in the wine.”

Of course he did. What a solution.

Still, she wasn’t sure what to make of her dreams. This was the second time that Enkidu had somehow managed to be in her dreams here. It didn’t seem like it was for a good reason either.

“Do you not trust Enkidu?” The man set his glass aside, moving forward to wrap his arms around her again. Those red eyes were searching her gaze, trying to gauge if she would be telling the truth.

“I trust them completely. It’s just…”

She wasn’t sure.

Enkidu was so good. They was so sweet and kind. It’s just that she felt something off.

“You should ask them then.” Those red eyes closed, smile creeping onto his face. An upsetting kind of smile, like he knew so damn much more than you. “Tell them what you remember from your dream and ask if they know something. If they do, they’ll tell you.”

“I just- Maybe when this is over.”

“Don’t wait.”

“What? Why?”

Gilgamesh pulled her closer, his lips pressing against hers. Those eyes looked down at her, emotions untraceable. “If you trust them, just ask them. Ask as a favor to me, Hakuno. I think the answer you’ll receive will be interesting.”

Of course. He wanted to be entertained. Somehow she wasn’t surprised by that answer. Anything to keep himself busy. Whether he was pushing paperwork as a caster or drinking as an archer, he always found some way to amuse himself.

“I somehow think that Enkidu would be upset if I told them that I saw them covered in blood. It’s probably nothing.”

“Hakuno. I asked you to do it as a favor to me.”

“I don’t want to do it just to entertain you. I don’t want to hurt Enkidu. What if I’m trying to remember something important that they would be upset by me not remembering?”

Archer sighed, running a hand through his hair. “You are making this overly complicated. I will ask them for you, since you are showing meekness in regards to my friend.”

“Don’t you dare!”

The archer just grinned. “I don’t care what you say to me, Hakuno. You have told me your dreams and I know my friend. If there is something you need to know, I will have them come forth with it. Better that than this distrust I see on your face.” The grin faltered slightly. “It’s distasteful.”

“Don’t give me that. I trust them! I just- Gil, don’t make me hurt them!”

“You are hurting them with your silence.”

“Gil! I mean it!” She reached out, stopping him from returning to his smug wine-binging behavior. “I am not going to have us hurting them because I had a bad dream.”

“Multiple bad dreams. You had bad dreams last night.”

“Gil!”

“We’re asking them.”

“I trust Enkidu!”

“Then why are you holding onto me as though you wish for my silence while you decide for yourself?” The king narrowed his gaze, pushing her onto her back and following after her body. The amusement was gone, all traces of patience gone. “Hakuno, I won’t allow this.”

“Gil-“

“You do not know them as I do.” Archer growled. “Before you assume as you did with me around your little friends from before, think on this: Enkidu has never betrayed anyone. Not me. Not the gods who poisoned them. Not a single being has ever been betrayed when Enkidu became loyal to them. They told tales only to my mother and myself. Now, I hear from your own lips that they told you tales.”

“I’m- Gil, I’m telling you that I trust them.” He wasn’t going to listen though. Endlessly stubborn to the end.

“Are you both busy?”

They both paused as the door opened, a head of green hair poking through the doorway. Their smile was firmly in place.

“Enkidu!” Archer grinned, sitting up, keeping her trapped beneath him. “Hakuno and I were talking about a dream she had.”

The damn asshole. He knew she couldn’t do this!

“Ah- Dreams. I don’t care for those.” The clay being slipped through the door, smiling from within the confines of a long, brown coat. Caster walked in behind them, shutting and locking the door. It seemed like Caster was winded for some reason, adjusting their turtleneck as Enkidu headed for them.

“Hakuno, tell them about the dream,” Archer insisted.

Enkidu moved forward, settling in a seat near the bed. Rather than sitting like anyone else would, the being crossed their legs, leaning forward.

They had sat like that before…

Hakuno shut her eyes, taking a moment to gather sanity back up.

Sanity was something entirely lacking with Gilgamesh involved.

“I had this dream that I saw you in a hospital and you were covered in blood.”

“I was in a hospital? Was I hurt?” The being frowned.

“No, I was in the hospital bed. I’m not sure why. It was probably just a weird dream.”

“Ah- I see.”

Caster leaned against the door, raising a brow at them.

“Problem, Caster?” Archer glanced over at him.

“I don’t see the reason why Hakuno is not already aware of the fact that she had Enkidu before. Obviously she is remembering when she was young.”

Archer’s gaze darkened.

“When I was young? What are you talking about, Caster? That doesn’t make any sense.”

Enkidu looked over at them, eyes widening a little. As though to portray something to the man. Archer was moving to stand, glaring at the mage king further.

“It is not for you to explain,” Archer hissed.

“What- What are you even talking about?” Hakuno sat up, her gaze drifting down to the outfit a moment before she wrapped the sheets around herself.

Almost forgot about the lingerie.

“You look very pretty, Hakuno,” Enkidu murmured.

“Thank you…” She was going to die from embarrassment at this rate. “Can you please explain what Caster is talking about?”

“It is hard to explain.” Enkidu leaned forward a bit more. “Maybe the dreams will tell you what you need to know? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable?

Were they joking?

“I don’t think you could.” There was a better chance of Chaldea burning to the ground. Every time the being held her, it was like being locked away in the only safe haven in the world.

“Hakuno- Enkidu was your first servant.” Caster shook his head as both servants in the room glared his way. His gaze met theirs, the mage pursing his lips in distaste. “It’s not like it’s a large secret. Hakuno will remember soon at this rate and it’s easier to understand if it is explained than if it comes in time. More value will be given to time spent together. This noncommunication is aggravating to me.”

“It wasn’t going to be noncommunication. I was going to have Enkidu explain,” Archer complained.

“I wasn’t going to explain. I don’t want to have those memories here,” Enkidu told them both. “I have already told both of you and not Hakuno what you need to know.”

Hakuno moved to stand up, looking between them all.

This was absurd. Secrets and noncommunication. Every time she turned around there was just one more thing. She was making one step forward and two steps back. This needed to end.

“Can we please just stop.” She waved her hands, glaring at them all. “Just for a minute, pretend you aren’t trying to protect my feelings or do something because you want to be entertained. Just for one minute, can someone please explain.”

Hakuno looked over at the two kings.

“I’ve come to this place, been fought over, thrown into a singularity, sentenced a man to death, poisoned a servant, robbed a royal palace, come back only to be kidnapped by a man who thinks I’m his dead wife, run into a servant that is made entirely of clay, and I’ve learned more about sex and love than I can ever remember knowing!”

Archer shrugged, a grin on his face at the end of that. “It was a good decision to summon Enkidu.”

“Originally my plan,” Caster pointed out, “but I agree with Archer on that.”

“Enkidu,” she was ignoring Caster’s self-praise. “Please. Don’t be like Gilgamesh. Just explain something straightforward to me. I can’t handle being told that I’m too tired or someone else is too tired or a lot has happened. Just tell me exactly what I need to know.”

The being looked up at her, watching her a moment before sighing. “I did not like the idea of doing so previously. You have the amnesia syndrome and I know it gets dangerous at times. I like how you are here, being able to live without those memories and pain.”

“I’ve taken care of the Amnesia Syndrome.” For the most part apparently, since she wasn’t remembering this being.

Those green eyes flickered to her. “Do you remember when I said I had a master that summoned me twice?”

“I do.”

“The first time I was summoned, it was through a proxy. My master did not directly summon me. The proxy that did, I killed.” Enkidu looked up at her, his hands moving to wrap around his legs. “I did not like him and dying again was of no matter. When I was just about gone, this little brown-haired girl came walking into the room. They were my real master. She had this matted hair and had these deep bags under her eyes.”

“So I took over and you counted it as me summoning you?”

The being paused, pursing their lips. “…You’re ruining the story.”

“No stories. I just need to know facts.”

“I’m getting more wine if this is going to go this way,” Archer complained.

“Pour two glasses,” Caster added, moving to summon two chairs from the Gates of Babylon.

Enkidu shook their head. “I was summoned by a very sick you. She had been in the hospital for a long time and didn’t know what the outside world looked like. I promised to show her it. I wanted to show her everything.”

“But?”

The being turned their gaze away. “It didn’t work out. You were very sick. Eventually, you couldn’t remember me well enough to command me to do anything. I found the grail, but they found me shortly after I wished with it.”

They went quiet, earning a glass of wine from the two kings as they both settled in. Archer’s arms wrapped around the being for a moment before being motioned off. The being shook their head.

“Enkidu,” Hakuno moved to sit in front of them, settling on the floor. Her hands went to their legs. “Do you remember my family at all?”

They hesitated. “I never spent much time with them. I don’t think they would have approved of a clay being at your side.”

The two kings both huffed, turning their gazes to the edges of the room in disbelief.

As though anyone could hate Enkidu.

She had been a master when she had been a regular human. The news was interesting, especially since she had not been able to remember anything from before. The Moon Cell had created her after a human from Earth, but she didn’t know much about them.

It was interesting to see their servant before her.

“You said that I summoned you twice?”

“I don’t think the second time really counts.” Enkidu shrugged. “I was momentary. After you were first brought into fruition in this body. Something made the mana in you stop and I disappeared soon after appearing. I had hoped, since I had been there to murmur to you and tried to reach your dreams, that you’d at least find Gilgamesh.”

“And thus we were summoned.” Caster nodded at that. “That explains how we came to you, Hakuno. Servants normally are seduced to masters with catalysts. Personally, I have found other manners to summon servants, but that’s just-“

“Enkidu.”

The being looked down at her, waiting as she looked them over.

This being remembered her. Before anything had happened with the moon cell. Before she had been created. They knew her as she had been originally. They knew what her family may have been descended from. They may have known more of her history than she could ever find in all the research of the world.

They, alone, knew her.

As she remained silent, she could see the little things. The nervous glint in their eyes. The way they squirmed slightly, waiting for her to ask another question or demand another answer. She could see them sip at the drink in their hands, as though wanting to destress while not indulging.

She needed to say something.

Had they been friends? Had she trusted him? Had they been close at all? Did they regret their last time together? Had she been a good master to him? Had she said anything about herself? Who was she? Outside of magic and servants and fighting, who the hell was she?
“Hakuno?”

“What is it?”

Enkidu looked down at her, biting their lip. “Can you please hold on a moment? I have something I brought with me for this conversation… I was hoping I would maybe never have to get it out…” The being shuffled around in the coat they were wearing, closing their eyes before they grinned.

“Enkidu?”

“I found it.” Enkidu grinned, pulling the object out and holding it out to her. “It’s a bit sad looking. I’ve been holding it out of the grail’s reach for all this time and using my clay to hide it inside myself. I didn’t want to forget a single second of time. Memories are so hard to keep after thousands of years.”

The red bloom was set in her hands. Half its petals were gone, the stem split at the bottom.

She stared at it, holding it as the two kings frowned at the bloom as well.

“I don’t get it,” Archer commented.

Enkidu grinned over at them, brushing their bangs out of the way. “I promised Hakuno that, some day, I would take her out of the place where she was being held and to this big field of flowers.”

Her face was wet.

Hakuno stared at the bloom, letting the feeling run over her.

Why was this so familiar? Why did her chest hurt?

“Hakuno.”

Hakuno looked up at the being.

“Remember the skies you used to look at outside the windows?” The being smiled that same smile, that same big smile. Her heart twisted in her chest. “You loved any time the skies turned red. You liked the reds and golds. I told you that since you liked them so much, you’d love my king. He was the most golden king in red robes that you’d ever find.”

“I can’t… I can’t remember that.” Hakuno shook her head. Her gaze lowering to the floor. “I’m sorry, Enkidu.”

But they didn’t stop. She felt the weight in her chest growing heavier as Enkidu climbed from the chair to the floor. Their glass was set aside. Their arms wrapped around her person.

“It’s okay to not remember,” Enkidu murmured to her. “I don’t mind. There’s nothing worth remembering from before. We can make new memories. You found a real family and you’ve been prepared from before for them. As long as I can still hug you and this time keep you safe, then nothing else matters. Don’t think back, Hakuno. Trust me, it’s not worth it.”

Her face pressed against the being.

“Enkidu?”

“Yes, Hakuno?”

She didn’t even think about the question as it came out. She simply held onto them tight. “Is there a word for when you like something so much that your heart is racing and you can’t imagine being any happier than you are at that moment?”

The arms around her tightened, the being’s body holding her so tight that she felt she’d die. “Hakuno…” It sounded like they were losing their composure now. Another set of arms wrapped around them, the sound of both kings moving now audible as the being held onto her tight.

“Please, Enkidu.”

“That’s called love, Hakuno.”

A flicker, a church’s stained glass, came to mind. She could feel the pain in her heart increase, the tears becoming too much. She was sobbing into the being now.

“I think I love you, Enkidu.”

“I’m so glad, Hakuno. I’ve loved you for every second I was in the darkness of the grail.”

Chapter Text

She wasn’t sure how long she stayed like that, clinging to Enkidu in Archer’s room. Her body had been pulled onto the other’s lap, her head resting in the crook of their neck. Her tears had long gone dry. They just held her in their arms. They murmured little things, waving off Archer and Caster after a time.

It was not a great thing, since they had so much yet to accomplish here in Chaldea.

She needed to put the emotions away, set them aside for now and stop being preoccupied with what had happened before she had gotten to the point of her memory that she couldn’t remember. Instead, she clung and clung until she felt like she’d go mad trying to remember. She held onto this clay being and longed for just a little more.

Flickers, mere whispers came.

Yet there was nothing else.

Enkidu just held her tightly to themselves though, wrapping their coat around her after a time so they could keep her that much closer. They kept on grinning, laughing a little from time to time.

“I didn’t think you’d even want to remember anything,” they murmured at one point.

The moments passed. Her body grew restless.

“Hakuno?”

Forcing herself away, she rubbed at her eyes a little, shaking her head. “I still can’t remember much, Enkidu. I might need you to tell me more about what happened before. I mean- I don’t even have the same body as I did then.”

“Let’s let some of the memories die, please.”

They had said that before. “What do you mean?”

“Before was…” They paused a moment, pursing their lips a bit as they seemed to mull around for words, “difficult. You did not have the support there as you do now. We made a lot of mistakes. There’s nothing in some parts of your memory but bittersweet memories and pain.”

“They’re my memories though. I want to remember what it was like when I had you around.”

The sound that came from the being was more of a groan than anything as they ran a hand through their hair. “I will be here with you. If the memories do come back. The less pleasant ones are my real problem.”

“How bad can they get?”

“They get bad.”

“Did we kill someone?”

“It was a long time ago, Hakuno. You can’t be blamed for it. It was kill or be killed and once they saw what we were doing together, there was no choice.”

“What were we doing?”

Enkidu shook their head.

“Who was it?”

“We need to look into finding Gilgamesh, Hakuno. We can talk about this more when we are free.”

It felt familiar to hear them say that kind of thing. She could only nod at those words, wrapping her arms around Enkidu’s arm. The being glanced her way and laughed.

“You’re going to make Archer have an aneurysm going out in that.”

“Huh? OH!” Hakuno hurried over to the dresser, pulling out some clothes and hesitating. “I’ll just- um…” She needed to get dressed properly again, but-

“Come here.” Enkidu laughed a little. “If I know my friends as I do, they have picked the most complicated clothes to give you and hidden everything else.”

“I could probably get most of it on.”

“Come on, we have things to do today. While you may manage, I’ve done this for you a dozen times over.” Enkidu motioned for her again and she walked over, wrapping the coat they had wrapped around her closer to her person. She began to turn and listened to the being laugh again.

“What?”

“You’re so shy about this. It’s funny.” The being pulled the coat from her shoulders, taking the first fabric, the slip of a dress from her hands. “I suppose I can tell you some of the few good memories that I have from our time together before. While we spent most of our time in the hospital, we did have some time free. The first day, I had to take you to this abandoned church and let you sleep. You were so tired and I didn’t have time to run away and get things for us. When I finally felt we had time, you woke right up and were looking around at everything.”

The slip went over her head, dropping around her person a moment before they accepted the next piece of clothing.
“I had to help you dress then as well. You had no idea how to dress yourself or do a lot of things. The whole time I tried to help, you were squirming and looking around at everything. All I’d get in response to asking you to stand still and do this or do that was ‘Enki, look at this!’ and ‘Enki, Enki! What are those!’. I can only imagine what would have happened if we had been able to have Gilgamesh with us there. You two would have probably driven me crazy with running around the area and chasing after every animal you saw.”

“You sound more like a parent than a servant, Enkidu,” Hakuno pointed out.

“Yours were… They were bad people. I don’t know what made them the way they were, but I liked you. You looked at me like I was human, even when I grew antlers for you or turned into a beast. There was never a monster in me through your eyes. The only thing I was simply was Enkidu, the being who gave you hugs and read you stories and made the world have every color you loved and nothing else.”

She leaned back as they tied the last piece of the outfit into place. Her eyes drifted up to their face again. “You do give wonderful hugs.”

“I gave you one every day. It didn’t matter what happened or who hurt you, I always found a way.”

She nodded.

What else was there to say to that.

“Should we find Gilgamesh now?” She offered. “I imagine the two of them are probably arguing.” Or they were trying to kill Cu Chulainn, but that was another problem they would have to stop in its tracks. She really didn’t need a dead servant on their hands.

“Just a little longer,” Enkidu murmured.

A little longer and she was going to fall asleep. Hakuno hugged the being a little more before standing up. Her hands went to the clay being’s, pulling them to their feet as well. They stood up with a sigh, those green eyes on her again.

There were a lot of questions on her mind as they slowly moved from the room. First and foremost being exactly how they had gotten to a point where the being had left her. Or maybe she had left them? The hand holding onto her own was tight, as though afraid she would be lost if they weren’t careful. They moved through the hallway with Enkidu moving a little closer as they turned corners.

It hadn’t been that Enkidu walked her into walls before. They had been trying to cover her in case something came around the next corner.

Hakuno stopped as they rounded another corner, looking over at the being.

“Enkidu.”

“What is it?”

“I won’t get hurt here.”

The being frowned a little. “What do you mean?”

She motioned at them both. “You keep walking me into walls. I’m not going to be attacked rounding a corner. I have you with me and I have three command spells. I can call both Gilgamesh Caster and Archer to us if we need help.”

“It’s a habit. I’ll get better in time.”

It was a habit, but she doubted that. “You make it feel like I need to treat you like a weapon, Enkidu.”

“I am a weapon.”

“Okay, but you’re a person as well.” Hakuno moved a little closer. “You just held me while I cried for I don’t even know how long. You helped me dress and you’re worried about my feelings. That is not what a weapon does. You’re as human as they come, Enkidu, and you’re my friend. Please. I want to protect you as much as you want to protect me.”

Enkidu made a face, brushing at their hair a bit. “I am a weapon at the end of the day. I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Enkidu.”

“Hmm?”

Hakuno held her arms open again, finding the being pulling her in for another hug.

They were so easily swayed into giving hugs. What a strange being. She pressed her face to the being a little more, closing her eyes.

“I never want to hear you call yourself nothing more than a weapon again,” she murmured.

“Such a bossy master you’ve become.” Enkidu pulled back, pulling their hair into their hands and beginning to fix it into a bun.

“Hakuno!”

Hakuno turned, finding herself sighing at the sight of the lancer wandering their way. A smile came to her face as she waved at the man. “Lancer!”

“We have to talk about your other servants,” Cu complained, adjusting his jacket and looking down at her. “You know those idiots tossed my ass outside for what we worked on in Uruk? You know how hard it is to find door handles in subzero temperatures?”

“Sorry. It slipped out last night when I was talking to Caster.” Hakuno winced a bit as she saw the frost bite on the man’s hands. “I really didn’t mean for anything to happen.”

“Yeah, well- Let’s just say I not have to be around those blond idiots for a bit.” Cu looked over at Enkidu, frowning. “Yo.”

“You must be Cu Chulainn.”

“Call me by my class. I’m Cu Lancer, not to be confused with my other selves.” He held out a hand, finding himself pausing as the other shook his hand. “…Sorry. The frost bite must make my hand feel weird. Someone,” he said with emphasis, “decided to toss my ass down the mountainside.”

“I’ll talk to them,” Hakuno promised.

“My body is not made of flesh and blood so you miss out on feeling nothing,” Enkidu told the man.

“Cu, this is Enkidu. He was my original servant.”

Cu looked at her as she said that, turning his gaze back to the clay being. “So you were with Hakuno originally? You poor bastard. You probably had to deal with Gilgamesh yourself.”

“Gilgamesh is my friend.”

“Say no more.” The man’s hand was out of Enkidu’s, his body turning around. “I know a death wish when I see one. I am going to go not die somewhere. I’m thinking my rooms sound wonderful right now. Maybe Caster can heal the frost bite.”

“Cu, come here. I’ll heal it.”

“Not dying today, Hakuno.”

“Cu,” Hakuno followed him, pulling him to a stop and forcing her mana to flow towards the being. His cheek color went down a little more, his hands softening and returning to normal once again. He allowed it to happen, with only minor shifting from one foot to the other.

“Thanks, kid.”

“You’re my servant. I should be helping you when able.” She looked back at Enkidu. “Shall we… Enkidu?”

“Sorry, I was just thinking.”

They hadn’t looked like they had simply been thinking.

Their eyes had been glued to what had been happening. Their hands had turned white from holding one another. Minor cuts were there, from their nails digging into their skin.

Were they worried about magic?

But that wouldn’t make much sense. Why fear magic? She was a mage. That was something that came naturally to them. The being wrapped their arms around her and Hakuno sighed.

Another mystery.

“Alright. I’m still heading back to my rooms.” Cu nodded at them. “Are you both heading to the kitchens or…”

“I just needed to move around,” Hakuno told him. “I had a long morning and I just needed to get up and walk.”

“I don’t understand at all, but that’s whatever.” Lancer shrugged. “Let me know if we’re going to the training grounds or going after Gudako.”

“Going after Gudako?”

Lancer nodded, looking down at her in surprise. “You didn’t hear? The place is unusually barren right now. No one really is sure why. Merlin apparently went to check on Gudako and she’s missing too. No sign nor hair of her anywhere. We’re all thinking she may have wandered into a singularity. Might be in Uruk for all we know. How ironic would that be?”

Heavily.

Hakuno looked up at the man again, shaking her head. “There’s no notice or anything? What about her second in command?” Caster had been talking to her.

“Unconscious. Not sure what happened, but Merlin’s with her now.”

Unconscious?

“Where?”

Enkidu moved in closer. “Could you take us there, Cu Lancer?”

“Sure, I guess.” Lancer motioned them towards another hallway. “It’s this way. It won’t take long to reach there. The other servants have been visiting off and on.”

The hallways were emptier than usual, filled with silence as they moved. Enkidu’s hand curled up around hers a little more, pulling her closer as they moved along the hallway.

Memories probably, she thought to herself. They were probably remembering something about the hospital she had been in. Maybe she had done magic there they had gone awry.

Maybe that was why they had feared her healing Cu’s hands.

Things were different here. She wasn’t the same being that the being had met all those years ago. She held onto Enkidu’s hand more and confidently moved along the hallways. She tried to sense any mana in the area. Anything that would explain what was going on.

Her senses remained useless.

Cu pulled a door open, motioning them in and following behind.

Ozymandias and Nitocris were standing with Cu Caster by the bed of the woman. All three of them were chatting quietly as Hakuno looked in their direction.

“What happened?” Hakuno asked.

“Ah- Hakuno!” Cu Caster smiled, motioning her forward. “Mash has been passed out for a while. We’re not sure what happened, but we can’t do anything for her. She’s unreachable. Nightingale is nowhere to be found to help with this either.”

“Was anyone else with her? Ozy? Nitocris?” Surely someone else had sensed or seen something. It wasn’t like people normally passed out in the hallways.

“We haven’t found out anything. Nero was the one who found her and brought her here. She has been looking around with Tamamo for any signs of Nightingale or Dantes. Normally, those two care for anyone near the clinic area.” Ozymandias glanced at Enkidu again, his frown deepening. “You have been spending a great deal of time with my wife incarnate, Clay Being.”

“I have no idea what you mean,” Enkidu replied, smiling a little. “But I have been spending much time with Hakuno. She is, after all, my master and I her first servant. It’s only natural I keep close.”

Ozy simply smiled, “I am glad she has a loyal original servant. As one would expect of my wife.”

Enkidu pulled her a little closer.

“Ramses thinks I’m his wife,” Hakuno explained as Cu asked Ozy questions about Mash. “I keep telling him that I’m not, but- well- It hadn’t been going over well. Reincarnation is complicated like that, I guess.”

“King Ramses,” Enkidu called to the man.

“What is it, Clay?”

“Do you know of Merlin?”

“The magician of flowers? Of course.”

“Then you must know that Hakuno is related to him, correct?”

The room fell to silence.

What on earth was the being talking about? Hakuno spun around, staring up at the servant.

Enkidu shrugged. “If you do not believe me, it is a simple matter of asking the man himself. You no doubt have all sensed something familiar when Hakuno uses her magic.”

Ozymandias looked at her again before laughing.

“There is no way that Hakuno is related in any manner to Merlin. You must be mistaken, Creation of the Gods. Hakuno is nothing less than the reincarnation of my dear wife Nefertari.”

“Hakuno is the child of two mortals, blended with the remains of the mana circuits of Merlin, the mage of flowers.”

Hakuno shook her head. “Can we please focus on Mash? How long has she been unconscious? Is there anyone else around that could take a look at her?”

Nitocris leaned against her staff, closing her eyes. “We have had Mash here all morning. Cu was the latest Caster to look at her, but we cannot sense anything or help. Medea is missing and was the only caster that we hoped would be able to assist.”

Cu Caster shrugged. “Not that she’s normally help. She fucks with Lancer and myself too often.”

Lancer nodded at that.

“Perhaps Hakuno should look at her.”

Hakuno paused, glancing behind herself at the man in the doorway.

“Merlin!” Enkidu smiled at the man. “What a pleasure to see you.”

“The pleasure is all mine, my dear friend!” Merlin moved into the room, flowers trailing behind him as he closed the door. “I just ran into Caster and Archer a few minutes ago trying to figure out where the two of you had gone. I figured I would sense out where you had both run off to.”

“You aren’t actually related to Hakuno, are you?” Cu Caster asked, following Nitocris’ stance by leaning against his own staff.

“Hmm?”

Ozymandias smiled, motioning at the man. “There you are. Hakuno is nothing less than my once and future wife.”

Merlin shrugged. “If that is true, then I suppose you should probably take great pride in me. Hakuno is not related in blood sense, but I know my magic when I sense it.”

Hakuno turned away, moving to look at Mash.

She’d never met Mash before.

She didn’t know if Mash liked meeting people or if she liked having help. She didn’t know if friendships to Mash were like Shinji’s in that friends were for using or if she regarded friendship like Enkidu and Gilgamesh did, where everyone had value and loyalty was to be unquestionable.

Mash was badly beaten though. Whatever had happened, it had happened horribly and it had taken her down without anyone else around to protect her. The bruises and cuts along her person were bad enough that she looked like she was more wrapped up than not. It made her almost regret saying anything to Enkidu for being overprotective.

Still, she wanted to help Mash.

“Hakuno?”

Hakuno paused, looking over her shoulder at the man behind her.

Merlin shook his head. “I was joking when I said to look at her, Hakuno. She is unconscious. I don’t think anyone other than the mage that caused this could help at this time. There is enough magic in place to make helping her dangerous.”

“Do you know what caused this?”

The magician shrugged.

Enkidu leaned closer.

“I did not expect you to be telling others of my relations to Hakuno, Enkidu,” Merlin told the being.

“Hakuno was being confused for the wife to Ozymandias. I decided that was a quick way to prove that she is not.”

Merlin shrugged. “Perhaps, but I am not regarded as someone given the highest trust.”

“You mean I am related to you?” She still felt her mind rejecting the idea. She had absolutely nothing in common with this man.

Merlin shrugged. “As I said before, Hakuno, I recognize my own magic when I am around it. Your mana called out to me like a lost child. Do not worry though. I believe that is all we have in common. It is a shame really. We could have had a lot of fun if your servants did not plan to remain in the way.”

Chapter Text

She wasn’t even going to bother to reply to him.

Hakuno looked over the woman a bit closer, frowning at what she found.

Or rather- what she didn’t find.

It was like the servant/person- It was like Mash had just gone to sleep. She didn’t look like she had been bothered or moved or beaten or anything. She just- slept.

“What servants are around to help?” Hakuno looked over at Ozymandias and Nitocris. “Could someone come take a closer look at her?”

“As I said before,” Ozy countered, eyeing her oddly. “Nightingale would have been preferable, but she is missing. Thus far, we’ve found a selection of servants have vanished from Chaldea.”

“And your master is missing?”

The man nodded.

Hakuno looked back at Merlin. “Do any of you know if she could have wandered into a singularity? I know that Archer and Caster were both confused about where I was when Cu Chulainn and I were there.”

Cu Caster shook his head. “I already checked. Gil Caster and Archer are doing a second search through Chaldea right now. We have Alexander and El Melloi looking around out in the tundra.”

“Alexander and El Melloi…”

She had to pause at that. She didn’t know the servants around here. All this time, she had been so preoccupied with figuring out how to get Archer free and trying to heal. It hadn’t really been on her mind to really meet too many of the servants around here.

Glancing at Enkidu though…

It wasn’t helpful to anyone for her to be hiding away behind Gilgamesh and simply trying to hide and keep from drawing the attention of any servant. They were all missing their master right now. Their second in command was lying unconscious with no doctor or assistance in sight. All of them were lost.

“Ramses, do you know how many servants Gudako has?”

The pharaoh shrugged. “She has a considerable amount.”

Hakuno looked at them and sighed.

What would Gilgamesh do?

“Gather them, please. Nitocris,” Hakuno turned her gaze to the other pharaoh. “If you and Cu Caster could stay with Mash, that would be lovely. I fear if we don’t keep an eye on her, she might still be in danger.”

“What are you planning, Hakuno?” Merlin leaned against his staff, smiling a little more in that odd manner of his.

“I don’t really have time to waste trying to understand everything about myself. So I guess, I don’t care. Right now we have a missing master and a lot of unorganized servants. We’ll gather up the servants and coordinate ourselves better. I’m sure Caster Gilgamesh will have a little more of an idea on how we can keep ourselves aligned.”

Enkidu just smiled softly, crossing their arms.

“Do you think the servants will listen to you?”

Hakuno looked back at the pharaoh standing up, those golden eyes turning to her as he felt her watching her.

“Do you mind supporting me when we meet with the servants, Ramses?”

“I would be honored to take the side of my true master,” Ozymandias replied. “You are mine, no matter what memories you contain or what lineage you possess.”

And she needed to be thinking along those lines.

It felt better, thinking in that manner.

Who gave a shit about who she was or where she came from. Gilgamesh had not come to respect her for being whoever the hell she had been when she had been with Enkidu. He hadn’t been impressed at the namedrop of Merlin or what magic she could do. She still sucked at magic and she still had memories missing, if what Enkidu had said had been true.

“Thank you, Ramses.”

The pharaoh kissed her forehead, looking over at Nitocris. “I will come back when I have the servants gathered. We can bring Mash to the get together. I believe it would be smart to keep our collection of servants together.”

“Allow me to assist you in gathering the servants,” Merlin told the pharaoh. “I know where all of them frequent. I can also put together a quick blog post to gather the servants as well if that would help.”

They were out the door soon enough, leaving her with the Casters and Enkidu.

“Enkidu, we should see if we can find Archer or Caster.” Hakuno nodded at the two Casters and turned, heading for the door. Cu Lancer watched her, following in her wake as well after a quick nod towards the Casters.

“You seem determined.”

“I’m just tired of not finding Gudako.” Hakuno looked over at the man. “It’s annoying. Every time I turn around. She’s not here. She’s tired. She’s missing. And then on top of that, I keep ending up in all kinds of trouble or dealing with more than I need to. The only thing I want is to have one long, uninterrupted talk about my memories and past and I want to curl up with Gilgamesh and just let the world do whatever it wants. I’m going to find Gudako before that happens though. If I don’t, my luck is going to set in and I’m going to end up in forty different parts and half destroyed while some servant comes along and forces me to fight.”

Cu snorted, ruffling her hair a little as he and Enkidu walked at her side. “Talkin’ from experience?”

“Thank the gods for Gilgamesh,” she told him.

“You are the only person I know who has said,” both he and Enkidu replied. Their eyes met over her head, both grinning a little before Cu laughed.

“I keep telling Hakuno she needs to get away from the jackass for a bit.”

“He has his faults,” Enkidu offered.

“I’ll help gather servants.” Cu felt around his suit a moment before handing over a device. “Here. When I find the others and we have them all gathered, I’ll give you a call. You can tell us all the plan and we can get started on properly finding Gudako.”

“Let’s try not to take too long. Every minute that we wait is another that something might be happening.”

“I get ya.” Cu saluted at her before hurried off. He turned the corner, speeding up as he vanished.

“Hakuno…”

“What is it, Enkidu?” Hakuno looked over at them, watching them reach out and pull her hand into their own.

Those lifeless eyes searched her own a moment before the servant closed their eyes. “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t say that. I know for a fact that you’re still hiding things from me. If there’s something important that I need to know…”

“There’s nothing.”

Nothing.

Because clearly her being Merlin’s descendent was negligible information.

Because clearly being her first servant and knowing her when she had been a normal human being was negligible information.

Gilgamesh had asked her if she trusted Enkidu. A part of her wasn’t trusting them. Not because they did anything that was false or wrong. She didn’t trust them because they wouldn’t talk to her. They stood apart and kept quiet. Her hand tightened around theirs, moving a little closer.

“Enkidu.”

“What is it?”

She pressed a hand to their cheek and scowled. “If there is something that happened that was important, then I want to know before anyone else hears it from you. I don’t want Gilgamesh or Ozymandias to know first. I want to hear it first and I want to hear it from you.”

“There is nothing worthwhile to know about at this time. Merlin being your father of sorts is the only thing that you would most likely deem important.”

Another sigh escaped her. Enkidu’s hand covered hers on their cheek.

“I will admit… I did many things I regret with you. I made false assumptions and I ended up hurting you because I wanted to protect you. I wanted to help and it-“ they paused a moment before shaking their head. “You lost your mother and father because of me. You lost memory because of me. I know what I did and why I did it.”

More information.

Leaning against the servant, Hakuno wrapped her arms around them again and pressed her face to their chest. “I am going to try to gain enough control of Chaldea to get the servants to listen to me and find Gudako. I need to straighten things out and then we’re leaving.”

“To where?”

“I guess Uruk.” Hakuno looked up at the servant and shook her head. “I really don’t care where we go, but Caster is doing amazing work in Uruk. I think staying there with Cu Chulainn was the only time I’ve ever really felt like I had a straight forward goal and enjoyed where I was. He’s really built up the kingdom and I think I could get used to the heat.” Eventually, she thought to herself as the servant nodded.

Enkidu nodded at that, lips pressing to her palm. “You will enjoy living in Uruk. It is much livelier than here. The temples have maidens that are-“

“I know exactly how those women are.” She shook her head. Typical reaction. They were no better than Cu Chulainn. “I have a feeling you enjoy cuddling up with those women just as much as Cu Chulainn.”

Enkidu shrugged.

Typical indeed.

She pulled away, keeping her hand in theirs as she began to head down the hallway. Her eyes drifted over the hallways, trying to start the search.

“Left.”

“Hmm?”

“Archer and Caster are both to the left.”

Hakuno blinked at the being.

“Archer feels a bit juvenile compared to Caster, but they’re both easy to sense. Especially right now. They both have a similar mana signature to your own. They feel so full of life. It’s a nice feeling.” The being closed their eyes and nodded. “We will find Caster first at this point, but Archer won’t be far.”

Left it was then, she thought.

They moved to the end of the hallway and Enkidu motioned to the right.

“Do you sense everyone here?”

“Do you not?”

Hakuno shook her head.

“I’m not surprised, I suppose. I’ve always been able to sense power. I think it was something the gods provided to me in order to be able to find Gilgamesh originally.” The being pulled her along now, their movement becoming a bit more animated. “This kind of thing requires no real effort on my part. I could find any of you if I tried hard enough.”

What a useful skill to have.

“Do you think that’s something you could teach?” Hakuno tried to quicken her pace, finding the servant grinning over at her.

“We could try, if you would like.”

“I would.” Hakuno grinned back at them.

The being bit their lip, turning their attention away from her as they sped up again. There was no other point but to jog now. The being must have been excited about showing off their talents. She hurried after them, laughing a little as they hurried around another corner and they sped up.

Caster paused at the end of the hall, staring over at them as they came speeding his way. Those carmine eyes of his widened a moment before he swept them both up.

“Bēlī!”

“Caster!”

The man held them both close, sighing a little. “You were both supposed to stay in Archer’s room. What are you doing roaming the hallways?”

“Mash is unconscious so I asked Ozy and Merlin to gather the other servants.” Hakuno smiled, grinning more as Enkidu half draped themselves along Gil’s shoulders more. “We decided to come find you and Archer so that we can do this discussion with everyone.”

“And what purpose would we have with meeting all the servants?”

“So that if anyone is against us, they’ll be close and we can weed them out.”

“This is the kind of idea that Archer would agree to, Hakuno. You can’t possibly be okay with the idea of doing such a thing. You could inspire those on the fence to show cowardice by joining whichever side is winning in the moment.”

“What he means is, ‘you are brilliant, Hakuno. I will of course stand behind you and support your decision,’” Enkidu interpreted, earning a smack from the mage king.

“Don’t tell her things she already knows, Enkidu.”

Hakuno went to speak when she felt arms around her, pulling her from the mage king. Her gaze went over her shoulder, to the blond now joining them.

“What’s this?”

“Oh good. You found us. That makes things simpler.”

Archer raised a brow at her.

“I’m planning to have us all coordinate in finding Gudako and whoever hurt Mash. I figure, if there’s servants against us, they may feel comfortable with attacking us or simply join our side because they don’t want to be taken down by other servants.”

“And Caster thought…”

“It’s a foolish, half-baked plan fraught with flaws,” Caster replied.

“My master is stubborn. She won’t give a single shit about what you think on the matter.” Archer smirked, setting her on her feet. “Are the others gathered already?”

“Ozymandias, Merlin, and Cu Chulainn lancer are working on that. Did you guys find any sign of Gudako?”

“She has vanished entirely. If I didn’t know better, I would have doubted that she ever existed in the first place if I had just arrived in Chaldea. Even the slightest signs of her presence are gone. Her room is also barren. Normally she has little gifts and things that the servants have given her strewn about her room.” The smirk on his face was gone as he said this, those eyes locking with hers.

They had dealt with people missing on the Far side of the Moon.

“Have you called Alexander?”

“Hmm?” Hakuno frowned at the question from Caster. “I don’t really know how.”

“I’ll contact him.” Archer pulled out a phone from his pocket, pulling her close as he flipped through the menu options and clicked on the screen. She could hear the sound of a thunderous voice coming from the other end as Archer grinned. “Melloi.”

Another faint impression of a voice came from the other end, prattling on for a minute before Archer leaned against her more.

“My woman wants you back in the base. Lancer was correct. Get your ass in the building with Alexander.”

More speaking.

“If you aren’t finding any signs of mana, then why are you going further out?”

Hakuno leaned up, brushing the man’s bangs back as he spoke. Already there were signs of the same irritation she had seen in him whenever he and Leo had spoken. Whoever was on the end of the line had very little patience obviously.

Archer leaned into her touch, closing his eyes.

“…Do not test my patience. Alexander granted your mercy from me once. He does not… Rider…” The man grinned a little as a louder voice spoke over the phone now. A buzzing was happening close to the voice. Probably the first man that he had been talking to. “My master insists on speaking to everyone. If you are done wasting my time and yours with your trip through the snow, there is a gathering.”

Enkidu looked down at Caster, repositioning themselves in Caster’s arms. “Tell me of Alexander and El Melloi.”

Caster shrugged. “I don’t care for Alexander. You will need to ask Archer of him. El Melloi is a caster. He’s stubborn though. He is one of the very few that has little patience for me and I have little patience in return. He was originally a mage for the Mages Association, but a servant spirit claimed him after death. He’s blended with the personality at this point and the servant’s spirit is negligible.”

Enkidu nodded. “When was he a part of the Mages Association?”

“From human records, around the start of the 2000s. He was around for the fourth and fifth holy grail war in Japan, although he stayed out of Japan for the fifth.”

The servant he was holding paused, eyes narrowing as he looked at Archer.

No, he was looking at the phone.

The being knew El Melloi. She had been alive around that time originally. If she had run into the mage alongside Enkidu, then it was only natural that they would know one another.

Which meant trouble.

“Enkidu,” Hakuno moved from Archer’s arms, motioning for the being to come to her.

“Do you need something?”

“I want to ask some more questions.”

Enkidu shook their head. “Not right now. I think I will wait until after the gathering.”

“Enkidu, please.”

“What is it, Enkidu?” Caster looked up at the being.

“It is nothing. Hakuno insists on too much information at once. Patience is a virtue that all must show at one point or another. Even if we do not want to.”

Caster shrugged, looking over at her. “If they do not want to talk about it, then don’t fret about it, Hakuno. Enkidu reveals everything in due time. You’ll know what you wish to know when they are ready.”

Spoken like someone who hadn’t been around for the Merlin reveal.

She almost wanted to ask if he knew about that, but crossed out the thought from her mind. Better to focus on the present problem. That was something she could talk to Archer about first anyway.

“You won’t fight Melloi, right Enki?”

Caster raised a brow at the name, but the servant in his arms hesitated.

“Enki?”

Archer was frowning a bit now, all but ignoring his call as the servant continued to be silent.

“I came to your aid, Enkidu, but that is something we can’t have right now.” Caster looked at the servant carefully. “Melloi is strong for support. He’s aided Archer more times than I care to count.”

“It is not that I will fight him outright,” Enkidu relented, “but if he says or does anything like what he did before… I will not be offered a choice.”

Archer turned, his arms wrapping around her before she could ask anything.

“Put Melloi back on the line, Rider.”

The other end replied back and Archer glared at the windows, staring out into the snow.

“I don’t give a shit how much he hates talking and trying to stay upright in the snow. Put him on the phone now.”

A silence came as Archer glanced over at Enkidu and Caster.

“I have Hakuno. Go to wherever the hell they’re all gathering and prepare them. Hakuno and I will follow shortly.”

“Tell me what he says when you arrive,” Caster growled.

“I will not hesitate to tell you exactly what I think when we speak,” Archer told him.

The two glared for a moment before Caster closed his eyes, nodding. His grip on Enkidu tightened for a moment. “If you need to transform, Enkidu, I will allow it.”

The being shook, horns forming on their head as their body expanded. Globs of color shimmered into place, the strange blue-green bands moving over their person in places. Not human nor animal, the being took up much more of the hallway as Caster set them back on the ground.

Not that he had much choice, since the being now was three sizes bigger than before.

Hakuno stared at the being, finding herself pulled closer to Archer’s person as the two left them.

“Rider,” Archer snarled.

A part of her wanted to see more of the servant that had left. Was the green haired androgynous appearance their true form or was the form they had taken their true form? Did they have the capability to take other forms? Why did Enkidu have so many damn mysteries around them?

Archer’s fingers were moving through her hair as he waited, foot beginning to tap against the ground.

Hakuno leaned up and moved the phone a bit, listening in better.

“Archer, I can’t walk and speak at the same time,” a voice on the other end complained.

“What do you know of Hakuno Kishinami?”

“…” A sigh. Archer looked over at her in bemusement.

She knew that voice.

Why on earth did she know that voice?

“Why do you want to know about that?”

“Waver,” Archer growled.

“Fine. She was a master between wars somehow. She had a servant. She was killed. That’s what I know.”

“She was a patient in a hospital. She wasn’t killed. She was put to sleep.”

“…That is something I don’t know about…” The other end of the line went quiet. “…Your master is her, isn’t it?”

“She is listening to you with me right now,” Gil told him.

Another sigh. A voice was speaking in the background, but she couldn’t make out what was being said. The voice she knew from somewhere spoke up. “It is fine, Rider,” the man on the other end said to the voice. “Archer, we will be back in a minute or two. If she has the Enki being with her, please warn them to refrain from attacking me. I did not fare well in our last encounter.”

Enki?

They looked at each other as the line went dead.

“What do you remember?”

“I don’t remember much of anything, you know that.”

“He knew you called Enkidu Enki.”

She shrugged. “I don’t know why I even started calling them that today. It’s a weird nickname for them.”

“It’s the name of the god that was behind his creation. It would be a semi-unsuitable name.” Archer frowned. “I don’t like this. Do you think you know other servants here from before?”

“I don’t know.” Hakuno shook her head. “We can’t worry about that, can we? We have to figure out what’s happening here and we have to help.”

“We could leave.”

Hakuno just scowled, earning a laugh. The man shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense to me, Hakuno. I was around in the time Melloi was alive. If you encountered them, I should have found you myself.”

“Don’t think about it. We’ll worry about it later.”

“If Enkidu was around then, I should have found them.”

He was getting agitated. Hakuno leaned in closer, staring up at him. “We are here now. There is something going on right now. We need to stay focused, Archer.”

The man narrowed his gaze. “Do you think we met?”

“You’d remember if we did. You would have been harassing me forever about it.”

A small hint of a smirk formed. “I would.”

“You were telling me about servants you were acquainted with. Is Rider-“

“He is the other one, yes.” Archer wrapped his arms around her, leaning in close and pressing his lips to hers. Whether he wanted the comfort or simply wanted to watch her squirm in his arms, she’d never know, but he seemed to relax a little under her touch. “Alexander the conqueror. He mowed down mongrels in his time. You’d quite like him, I suspect.”

“We should get back to Caster and Enkidu.”

“We should. We will need to ease them from whatever stress is on their mind. Normally, I do not see them return to that form unless there is something bothering them deeply. They normally have much better control of themselves.”

“Is that their true form?”

Archer began to weave their path along the hall, nodding at her question. “Enkidu was made of clay, but the gods are mongrels. They wouldn’t know how to form a being of anything at this point. It had been too long. The being they created roamed in that form until I decided to send one of the temple maidens out there. She was from one of the better temples. I just needed the damn being stopped from attacking hunters.”

“What did she do?”

“Tamed them. She had sex with that form of Enkidu on and off for several days. From what I hear, she was quite talented.”

Of course he would do something like that. Hakuno shook her head.

“Can they understand us in that form?”

“They sense things on a higher level in that form.” Archer nodded, glancing back at her. “They’ll understand you fine. They seem fond of you in general.”

Chapter Text

Fond of her in general.

Hakuno almost snorted at that understatement. Her hand was in Archer’s though as they moved through the hallways. She let him take the lead, trying to think carefully about what the plan would be for addressing the servants. Naturally, they would be inclined at least to a certain extent to work with her. She wanted to find their master. She wanted to get to the bottom of what was happening in Chaldea.

Any servant in their right mind would want to work with her.

Yet, she was another master and one that, through omission or commission, had gained servants that had previously been Gudako’s servants. They could see her as a threat. She needed to be smart about this.

Smart meant more Caster speaking.

Archer would get in a fight, especially if that blue Saber was in the room.

Enkidu was unknown for the most part. They had fought a servant in Chaldea.

If anyone saw that and was untrusting, then they could have good reasons as a counter argument. She would be unable to deny that Enkidu had done what they had.

Caster had a good rapport going with the casters in Chaldea. What’s more, he seemed to be able to work with Nero and with Ozymandias.

“Archer,” Hakuno looked over at the man guiding her.

“What is it?”

“Do you think there’s a good way to know who all these servants are without having to quickly memorize?”

Gil looked over at her, shrugging. “We can take some photos, I guess. My phone would work.”

That wouldn’t be bad. She could manage that. “We’ll do that then. I won’t remember all their names at the meeting.”

“I know them. I’ll take pictures of everyone and keep close in case we need to remember a name.”

She nodded. There wasn’t much else to say to that.

“Enkidu,” they both slowed at the sound of the voice talking in the next hallway. “You will need to control those emotions of yours better. If you do not want to talk about it, then you need to not think about it. What your doing is teasing her with things she does not know. The more you do that, the more frustrated she is going to become.”

“I know… It’s just- seeing her doing magic and hearing that he’s been close.”

“Melloi is an outlier. He has had no affiliation with Hakuno and has been useless in this place for anything other than providing the occasional support. He spends his time with Alexander and Alexander’s older self.”

“I will control myself. It will be fine.”

Caster’s voice leveled a little, slowing a little. “We’re going to do this just as we would whenever one of the neighboring countries would get it in their minds to invade. We will find out what’s going on. We’re going to be amicable and we’re going to be reasonable.”

“I will do what needs to be done.”

“You don’t look like you will. You look like you do whenever you are ready to be in the front of my army.”

“Can I be both?”

The man chuckled as they rounded the corner.

“You both talk too loud,” Archer complained.

“It’s fine,” Caster moved away from the clay being, crossing his arms. The two of them had changed into their usual fighting attire. Caster’s tome was under one arm. “We needed a moment to relax. We’re going to be acting more appropriately for the situation now.”

Hakuno moved around the two kings, wrapping her arms around the being and holding them close.

It was one thing to say that they were going to act with composure and rationale, but emotions didn’t work that way. They weren’t as callous with their emotions as Gilgamesh was. She could easily see that in their actions.

The being wrapped their arms around her in return, the smile on their face hard to see beneath their hair.

“I will be fine, Hakuno.”

“I know you will, but I want to keep you close to me. Let me take the pain, Enkidu. For once, let someone else take the pain.”

The being was getting heavier against her, those arms tightening a little as she felt her pocket vibrating. She fumbled, ending up with Caster coming to the rescue to grab the device and turning on speaker.

“Hakuno, we’re all rounded up.”

“Excellent! Thank you, Lancer.”

“We’ll just need Alexander, Iskander, and Waver. They’re outside and not answering.”

A set of footsteps were heading their way as Archer spoke up. “The mongrels most likely thought we were calling again. Keep the crowd contained, we’ll arrive soon.”

A red head was the first to appear, adorned in warmer armor than he should have been. The cloak that had been wrapped around his body was being tugged off and returned to the oversized-

“Iskander!” Hakuno stared in surprise at the man.

“If it isn’t the little master of the moon cell!” Iskander laughed at her, tugging along a man behind himself. “I thought I had heard a familiar name when Waver was talking.”

“You must be a new master,” the red head in front of him bounced forward, bowing in front of her. “Alexander the Great, at your service. You have already met my older self. Please feel free to differentiate us by the different way of saying our name.”

Hakuno smiled at him, nodding. “How neat. You’re also duplicated.”

“It’s great. My older self is an amazing and powerful person. I’m quite proud of our hard work.”

“Can’t go wrong with your own youth. They made you to be who you are,” Iskander added in.

The two grinned at one another, as proud and well mannered as ever.

“Alright. I see I’m important,” Cu Lancer’s voice spoke up. “Hurry up and get here.”

The phone went dead and Caster looked over at Enkidu. “We should go.”

Enkidu was looking over at the mage behind Iskander though.

“…It has been a few thousand years, hasn’t it?” The man murmured.

Hakuno looked up at Enkidu before moving forward with him.

They didn’t have time for enemies. Right now there were bigger problems and this could wait until those problems were dealt with. They’d all sit down and sort through the facts that they all knew until they had a straightforward story.

The man looked down at her and she frowned back.

“You’re Melloi?”

“Just call him Waver,” Iskander told her.

Waver held up a hand to the conqueror. He stepped forward. “You’ve grown quite a bit from when I first saw you.”

“I know we have some history, but I don’t remember anything. Right now I just want to find Gudako and help Mash. You’re a caster, aren’t you?”

“I am.”

Hakuno nodded. “Mash is unconscious. I don’t know how or by whom, but none of the other casters have been able to do anything and-“

“I have already looked at her. She’s beyond my help as well.” Waver looked over at Enkidu. “…It is strange to see you remain functional, beast of the woods. I don’t want trouble.”

“There won’t be any, so long as you remain loyal to what we need done.”

Waver shut his eyes, nodding. “I knew the moment that Archer said that she was here, that you would be close by. I have something to return to you both when we have the chance. I think you will find that you need it more than I.”

“Something-“ She needed to stay focused. “After the meeting,” she told him. “We need to gather ourselves and speak at the meeting to the others. Right now, this is about finding Mash help and finding out where Gudako and the others have gone. We have servants missing.”

At least that doctor one the others had spoke of.

“Do you trust me to be on your side, Enki.”

“Do not call me Enki. My name is Enkidu.”

Waver nodded. “Enkidu then. It appears I am in debt for what happened before. I will help however I can. Even if it means working with the arrogant king.”

Great.

Hakuno pulled herself loose from Enkidu a little, clapping her hands together to draw their attention to her. “Good. Then we’re in agreement. We need to persuade the others to work with us. Whatever we need to do, we need to do it as soon as possible.”

Enkidu hoisted her up, carrying her in their arms as the others followed in their wake. Hakuno looked over the being’s shoulder, watching Iskander chuckle and nudge at Archer.

“They seem close.”

“My friend and queen would naturally be accustomed to one another.”

“Ah- so that’s the friend.” Iskander grinned at her a moment before looking down at Archer again. “I always thought you’d end up with a nice wine glass for a woman. I’ve met a lot of men like you in my armies.”

“Excuse you…”

“Iskander,” Waver’s warning voice came as Caster chuckled nearby.

“Don’t laugh, you imbecile. He’s insulting us both,” Archer hissed.

“Archer has revised his childish behavior only slightly. It is a miracle. I do thank my queen and master for doing such miraculous work. Now if she could simply off him next,” Caster let the statement hang unfinished, earning a loud thump of some sort.

Archer had most likely hit him.

“Do not insult your own self! Truly, duplicates belong in the grail to never be seen again. I long for the moment I am truly able to enjoy my time with my master.”

“My offer of friendship still stands,” Iskander offered. “We could easily conquer the world and offer more terrain to Hakuno.”

“Do not tempt me with interesting ideas,” Archer growled. “Besides, I have only the need for one friend. Others need not pester me.”

“We’re almost to the others,” Enkidu murmured.

Hakuno turned her attention back to the being as Iskander continued to argue with Gilgamesh for friendship. Her eyes looked over the strain and thin lips before she leaned up, pressing her lips to the being’s cheek.

“I could have walked, Enki.”

“You could have, but sometimes I just need to feel you alive and awake in my arms. Sometimes I fear I could have you fall asleep on me again.”

“I won’t fall asleep for long. Gilgamesh would whine and find a way to follow after me into my dreams. Can you imagine anything worse?” She glanced over at both Caster arguing with Waver and Iskander arguing with Archer. “Those two would probably hunt me down and do all kinds of ridiculous things to my mind.”

“Maybe, but you wouldn’t be too upset. You love them, after all.”

“I do. I love you too, Enkidu. Not in the same way, but I care about you a lot.”

Those lifeless eyes looked down at her and she found herself returning the smile that came to those features. Such a flawless and beautiful face they had.

“Oh! I was going to ask,” Hakuno remembered. “Is the form you took a bit ago your real form or is this? I wasn’t sure and Archer wasn’t the greatest at letting me know the answer.”

“The beast form is my true form. I do not take it often. I could change to look like anything if I tried. I can do other things as well, but… Let’s just let me be your servant and nothing more.”

She nodded. “Does it hurt to transform?”

“It’s like stretching your arms or legs. The only difference is it feels like you’re doing so after lying on them for a long time. It feels good to me. Sometimes it just needs to happen.”

She nodded again.

How interesting.

As long as it didn’t bring the being pain, the she could only guess that it was a good thing.

“’Bout damn time,” Cu leaned against the doorway to the dining hall, looking over at them as they approached. “Pharaoh git’s been a shit while you’ve been gone.”

Hakuno climbed from the clay being’s arms and walked in, finding the little sphynx from before running to her.

“Ah! Hakuno! You’ve brought the others. Just in time.”

Ozymandias was sitting on one of the tables, facing a handful of the servants in the room. Sure enough, there was a few familiar faces, but-

Hakuno stared at Nameless, Karna, Gawain, and Nero. The last wasn’t a surprise to see, but-

“Hakuno!”

Gawain and Karna were the quickest to move forward. Nameless stood back, turning his face away.

“Gawain. Karna.” Hakuno grinned at the duo. “It’s so good to see you both.”

“Look at you! You’re dressed up like Gilgamesh’s servant,” Gawain laughed a little. “You know you could have found other clothes.”

She lifted the sphynx into her arms and shook her head. “It’s fine. I really am getting used to the clothes.” Although her own clothes would be nice. “There’s a lot to talk about. Gudako-“

“Gudako is missing and you’re all getting comfortable.”

Gawain fell back, his face falling a little. “Forgive me, my king. Hakuno was a master of the Moon Cell. We were somewhat close for a time.”

The blond was the same one from before. The one that had picked a fight with Gilgamesh in the hallway.”

“Artoria, this is Hakuno.” Atalanta moved forward, pressing a hand to her shoulder. “I can vouch for her, despite being clearly close to Gilgamesh. She’s an innocent child in this mess. I have been hoping to see her again.”

“I’m so glad to see you, Atalanta.”

The cat eared woman grinned. “Of course. So you called this meeting?”

“I did.” Hakuno looked at the rest. “I may need a roll call if you don’t mind. I don’t know all of your names.”

The room looked her over a bit before Caster moved forward.

“Casters. I believe my queen just asked for an introduction from you all.”

Archer just opened a handful of the gates of Babylon, aiming them towards the room as Ozy held his cane in his hands, turning it slightly and eyeing the room.

Not the motivation she wanted but-

“Naturally, you already know I’m Ereshkigal.” The blond woman near the wall smiled a little. “Goddess of the Underworld.”

“Ishtar,” the woman next to her declared. Hakuno stared at her in shock for a minute before collecting herself.

That wasn’t Rin. She was imagining things.

“Emiya,” Nameless introduced. He must have remembered his name at some point. That was encouraging.

“Cu Caster.”

“Medea,” A hooded woman stated.

“Nero Claudius!”

“Vlad the III.” The man looked about half dead on his feet as Hakuno looked at him.

“Mata Hari. Hello Hakuno!”

“Fergus Mac Roich.”

“Nursery Rhyme,” a young woman behind Fergus murmured. Another familiar looking face. Why did she look familiar? There were a lot of servants she had fought on the Moon Cell.

“Scathach.”

Hakuno nearly jumped as a woman leaned forward from behind a large man named Sparticus.

“Diarmuid Ua Duibhne.”

He wasn’t familiar, but Hakuno felt both Gil’s stop her from moving in that man’s direction. She blinked a bit, turning her gaze away.

“You already know me,” Kid Gil pointed out.

A woman next to him pat his head lightly, turning the sweetest looking face her way as she fluffed up her coat. “You may call me my queen or Medb. I don’t mind which you choose. I am just here temporarily so I figured I would come to see what was happening. If someone has done something to Gudako, then I want to know who is responsible. My sweet Cu is missing as well.”

Cu Caster and Lancer both scoffed.

“My name is Artoria,” Artoria introduced, looking around for a moment to ensure it was her turn. “I am the king for Merlin,” she motioned to the mage nearby. “And the king for Gawain. I’m not sure where my other knights are.”

Hakuno nodded, “and then we have Karna, the Gils, Ozymandias, Cu Chulainn lancer, Iskander, Alexander, Waver, and Nitocris.”

“And the strange being behind you,” Nero pointed out.

“Right.” Hakuno looked around at the group and nodded. “Everyone. This is Enkidu. He is my servant alongside Gilgamesh Archer and Gilgamesh Caster. I called together this meeting because, as you can see, Mash is unconscious, Gudako isn’t here, and there’s a handful of servants missing.”

“A handful is an understatement,” Cu Caster rolled his eyes a little. “We’re slim pickin’s at this point.”

“And we have Merlin supplying mana at this point,” Ishtar pointed out.

“Right.” That wasn’t a good sign. Hakuno glanced over at the flower mage, watching him close his eyes gently. The flowers forming around him were overflowing the table a bit.

“I don’t know what you all do normally,” Hakuno admitted. “I really can’t say that I have been the most observant about the whole thing, but your master is missing and I know how horrible it can be when your friend is missing. Since Gil and I are here and we have mana and strength, we’re going to help you figure out what’s going on.”

“Oh?” Medb and Ishtar both raised a brow at her, but it was Vlad that spoke up.

“What do you think you are going to do, little girl?”

“Hakuno is a priceless gem who will do whatever she needs to do,” Kid Gil replied smoothly. “I think anyone who can persuade both my older selves to help anyone is probably someone you need to shut up and follow, you stupid vampire.”

“Excuse me, boy?” The man wrinkled his nose, looking down at him. “I was not aware that mere infants were allowed in meetings. Does your mother know you’ve left her breast?”

“GENTLEMEN!” Hakuno clapped her hands at the two, a gesture that was much more difficult with the sphynx clinging to her. “Please! I really just want to help so that I can meet your master. It sounds like she has an important mission here and she can’t do that mission if she isn’t here.”

“Hold on…” Cu Caster frowned. “Where the hell is Proto?”

Proto?

A clambering came from the other room. A head of blue hair sticking out. “Sorry, I got hungry.”

Hakuno looked behind herself to Lancer, looking between the two before Lancer groaned.

“Get out here, Proto. Introduce yourself to Hakuno at least.”

Damn, there were too many.

“Gil?” Hakuno looked over at the man. “Can I get your phone?”

Caster and Gil pulled their phones out, frowning as they opened them up.

Caster’s glance towards his archer self was followed by a snort. “Didn’t charge yours either?”

“So it would seem.” Archer put his phone away and opened another gate, having a camera drop down. He handed it to her before glancing at Caster again. “I would have charged my damn thing if anyone even used phones in this place.”

Right.

Hakuno turned on the camera and looked over at Artoria. The king would probably be one of the most helpful in the room.

Most likely her, Medb, Ishtar, Ozymandias, Vlad or Nero, and Gilgamesh Caster. They seemed like the dominant ones in the room by a longshot.

“What’s the camera for?” the purple dressed one asked.

Damn. She couldn’t remember-

“Scathach,” Enkidu murmured in her ear quietly.

“Thank you.” Hakuno whispered. “Scathach, this is for taking pictures. I had to have Enkidu remind me of your name and I really don’t want to mistake anyone here for an enemy. We all want to help Mash and we all want to find Gudako and the others. If we work together, we can accomplish that.”

“My picture?” Medb grinned, moving to Fergus and Cu Caster’s sides. She smiled proudly. “Any time you’re ready, little Hakuno. Please feel free to tell Cu Chulainn to come a little closer.” She leaned back and smiled at the man. “I won’t bite harder than you can take.”

“Gods help me,” Cu Caster groaned.

“I can be gods if you need to.”

Hakuno rolled her eyes and turned the camera to Ozymandias and Nitocris first. “If you both don’t mind…”

Ozy leaned forward, brushing his hair back a little from his face. A photogenic god to be sure, Hakuno thought as Nitocris leaned herself against the man.

She moved to the two goddesses and Emiya next, watching Ereshkigal blush as Emiya pulled her closer for the picture.

Cu Prototype, Cu Caster, Cu Lancer, Medb, Fergus, and Scathach were in the next picture.

Sparticus, Nero, Vlad, Alexander, Iskander, and Waver.

Medea, Diarmuid, Karna, Atalanta, and Mata Hari.

Gawain, Artoria, Nursery Rhyme, and Merlin.

She looked down at her camera again and nodded. She’d look through the pictures more later.

“Right. So does anyone know how Chaldea is divided?

“Chaldea is a maze of hallways,” Artoria answered. “It’s been expanded as more servants have come in. Gudako and I originally were contracted together shortly after Mash was. I’ve watched the place be expanded thanks to the servants here.”

Hakuno nodded. “Thanks, Artoria. What area is the oldest?”

“This one. The rayshift area is the earliest as well. They were connected by one hallway originally with a handful of rooms, but the base was small and a lot of renovations have been done.”

“Is there a good way to search the place?”

Artoria frowned a little, thinking. “I don’t believe so.”

“Probably for the best. We need to be smart about this. Is there any other good gathering places we can go to for while we have missing servants?”

“There isn’t… What are you hoping?”

“I was hoping we could all stay together in one area.” Hakuno glanced over at Archer and Caster.

“I don’t think I would be comfortable with that!” Ishtar raised her hand. “The last thing I want to do is be around that lump of useless clay and those golden assholes!”

Hakuno held onto Enkidu, smiling at Ishtar. “I understand, Ishtar! I am thinking maybe along the same hallway. If anything happens, we’ll all be close enough to be able to help!”

The woman leaned forward. “You honestly expect me to be dealing with those three? Half breeds and a fake human being?”

Emiya put a hand on her shoulder and Hakuno went to speak, but Medb moved ahead.

“No one cares about your little spat, little goddess. Why don’t you go back to your rooms and pray for talent in the bedroom.”

Ishtar gaped at her as Medb moved forward and grinned at her.

She was right up in her space.

“You are Lancer Cu’s master, correct?”

“Ah- Yes. We contracted to one another.”

Medb leaned forward, tilting her chin up a little. Those glinting eyes glanced in Caster’s direction. “King Gilgamesh, how would you describe your little master?”

“She is priceless.”

“Hmm. I don’t know.” Medb tilted her head.

“Just leave the damn woman alone, bitch.” Cu Lancer leaned forward next to Ozy, shaking his head.

“You can kill me later.” Medb cupped her face and Hakuno blinked, finding her lips pressed against the woman’s. Those lips moved against hers, deep and persuasive before Atalanta and Archer were both shoving her away.

Those eyes gleamed as Nero whined aloud.

“Oh that was nice. I see…”

Enkidu held her closer to himself. The sphynx in her arms hissed at her.

“Scathach!” Medb looked over at the purple attired woman. “Tell the men to move their rooms over to by Archer Gilgamesh’s room. We can all stay in that hallway for now.” Her eyes flickered to Sparticus. “…You, ghastly man, come with me. You’re moving my things!”

What-

Hakuno tried to speak, but Artoria moved in the way.

“What are you doing?” Artoria demanded.

“I am interested in the little master. She seems like she gets it. No servant holding her back like Mash with Gudako.” Medb winked her way as she strutted towards the door. “I’m open to possibilities. When my Cu boy returns, I’ll show her what real servants look like.”

“Leave her,” Diarmuid told the blond saber, letting her and a handful of the servants leave behind her.

“She’s trouble,” Cu Lancer murmured to Archer.

At least it hadn’t gone bad…

Necessarily.

Archer and the others had been tame about that kiss actually.

Ishtar hurried over, earning a blockade in her way. Cu Caster and Lancer moved in the way. Enkidu moving back to the wall so fast that Hakuno almost dropped the damn camera in her hands. She watched as both Gils moved in front of them.

“Damn it! YOU LET MEDB CLOSE!” Ishtar crossed her arms, huffing. “If I have to move my room, then I want to personally talk to Hakuno! Why does my vessel know you, woman!”

“Your vessel?”

Archer spat on the ground. “Ereshkigal. Move your sister.”

“Move your sister. Don’t bother your sister. I hate my situation.” Ereshkigal stood up, looking over at Nameless- or Emiya. “Can you…”

“Ishtar, my goddess,” Emiya drawled. “Let me prepare some tea for you.”

“… I want answers later,” Ishtar warned.

Whatever the hell that meant, Hakuno really didn’t want to know.

More of the servants began to move, heading towards the door with words of room movement.

Ozymandias slid to her side as the others filed out.

“My sweet master to be,” he purred.

Not this again. Hakuno turned her attention to the camera in her hands, flipping through the pictures a little. “I really need to memorize the servants here, Ramses. Do you mind overseeing some of the movement with Cu lancer and Cu Caster? I really don’t want us to lose anyone else?”

“… I suppose. Please come visit me later.” He pressed his lips to her cheek as best he could. “And keep your sphynx with you. I want to ensure you stay safe.”

“I will.” Hakuno smiled up at him a little. “Just- I really want to get to the bottom of things.”

“We will.” Ozymandias looked over at Enkidu. “You will watch her as well.”

“My master is mine to protect.”

“Very well.” Ozymandias spun around. “Cu Lancer and Caster! Nitocris! We shall oversee the changes in rooms! As only true servants of caliber are able to do!”

“My pharaoh!” Nitocris was on her feet in an instant. “Let’s go!”

Thank the gods they were so good about this.

Hakuno looked back down at the camera, flicking to the last picture. The photos moved twice on her.

Her brows furrowed a little, staring at the image.

“What is it, Hakuno?” Merlin moved closer now, one of the last to move. Both Gilgamesh Caster and Archer closed in as well as Hakuno tried to make sense of what she was looking at.

“I am yours, King Gilgamesh.”

“That’s a good magician. You remember what I told you in the elevator, right? About the plan?”

“What is this?” Caster moved to grab the camera. Just as he would have seen or grabbed it, Hakuno found it in Enkidu’s hands, them and Archer looking at the photo more closely.

Archer's face went blank, those eyes drifting over the two figures in the picture. "...my little magician."

Enkidu ran a finger over the image. Those eyes closing. The faintest trace of blue green color came to their skin, like they had started to lose a bit of humanity for a moment.

Before she could react, Archer pressed the power button on the device. His eyes flickered to her.

They would be talking about this later. She knew that for a fact as the man returned the camera to the gates, waving off Caster’s look of interest and Merlin’s amused look. Archer sent a warning look to Enkidu before telling them all to oversee the others as well. He tossed a comment towards Artoria, earning a snarl from the woman. Despite the attitude, Artoria began commanding Gawain and Karna again.

They needed all the servants in one hallway, at least until they found the missing servants and Gudako.

Merlin and Caster moved to carry out Mash as Archer’s hand pressed to her shoulder.

“Send Enkidu to help Caster,” the archer whispered. “We need to talk about why I just had a vague memory of my own friend attacking me, Hakuno. And why you were in their arms.”

Chapter Text

Attacked him?

That didn’t make sense.

Why was nothing making sense anymore?

Hakuno followed after the servants, eventually settling along the hallway floor to watch as the whole collection of servants moved belongings into Gil’s hallway. There wouldn’t be opportunity to attack them this way. Whatever was happening, they would all soon become aware.

All of them.

Still, her eyes drifted to Archer as he helped carry Saber’s belongings to a new room. It had taken some coaxing on Caster’s part, but the man had started helping her move, alongside Ozymandias.

Enkidu settled next to her, watching them as well.

“I finished helping Nursery and Karna.”

“Thank you,” Hakuno told them.

“Do you remember seeing-“

“I don’t remember anything. I’m doing my best to try to keep focused on the present right now.” Her eyes drifted over to the being, arms around her legs. “Archer says we attacked him in what little he remembers, but I don’t remember anything. It’s just little feelings and seeing you covered in blood.”

“I don’t mind you not remembering.”

“Enkidu, how many other servants did I meet?”

“None.” Enkidu shook their head. “Melloi was a human. I remember him quite well. I don’t like him.” He motioned at the caster as he bounced around Iskander, complaining about his stuff being tossed haphazardly atop one another. “He was inhuman, cold. I didn’t like the way he treated you.”

“Do you remember anyone at all that could have been Gilgamesh?”

The being made a pained sound. “You have to remember, most of my time with you, you were in the hospital. Everything felt like it took so long. They put you to sleep so often. And then- in the end they-“ They stopped.

Hakuno moved a bit closer. “Please don’t do this to me. I know it hurts and I know you don’t want to tell me, but I’ve been having nightmares about this and I can never remember what happened. Archer’s remembering things and there’s a picture of me with him. Did you ever lose track of me? Did I ever wander off?”

“Hakuno-“

“Enki, please. I need to know. If I am going to move on from this and focus on what’s going on right here and now, I need to know what happened. Archer wants to talk later and-“ she paused as some servants walked by, lowering her voice, “and I need to know. I have to know.”

“I only lost you once,” Enkidu murmured. Those eyes were gleaming again, like glass rather than clay. “It was really brief. I had freed you, but we had been found the first time. They tried to take me down and I tried my best to ensure that all of the mages were killed, but a few fled. They sensed where the mana was coming from. I don’t know what happened, but you were saved.”

“Who saved me?”

“You didn’t tell me their name. You just called them Golden.”

So she had run into Gilgamesh.

Hakuno nodded, “Did you meet them?”

“I didn’t meet them, but I did attack them. They ended up starting to hurt you and there were enemies around. Mages. I reacted as best I could. I should have been more careful though. They found us soon after that and you were taken back to the hospital.”

“So, just so I have this straight, I summoned you-“

“Through another person,” Enkidu added.

“Right.” What did that even mean? Through another person? “So somehow I summoned you through someone else, you got me out of the hospital and then I went with Golden, who you attacked and then we ended up being dragged back to the hospital after attacking. I was put to sleep a lot and then finally we won the grail and somehow I lost you.”

“That’s a bit of a short way to put it, but yes. That’s right. We didn’t really win the grail though.”

“Okay, you said there was a grail.”

“There was.”

Hakuno blinked. “If there was a grail, there was a war.”

“You would think so, but no. We made the grail.”

“Enkidu, I’m so confused. Please explain better.” Hakuno leaned against the being, closing her eyes and groaning a little.

“There wasn’t a war. We thought there was and we prepared for a while like there was a war coming, but no servants came to fight us. I just had to watch you suffer. Then after a while, I realized that I had been summoned outside a war. We were together through strange circumstances. But we still needed a grail to grant the wish we had, so I found a way for us to have the grail. I didn’t tell your younger self because you had so much hope. Telling you that there would be no wish would have destroyed the little one that had come to me and shown happiness at merely seeing trees.” The smile the being gave was enormous, making her smile despite herself.

“So- let me get this straight. There was no war. I summoned you by chance. We escaped the hospital and ended up taken back. We met Archer somehow and met Melloi somehow before taken back. You found a way to make a grail. And then… what happened at the end?”

“I died.”

She nodded. That sounded like a bad subject to touch on. If she had learned anything from Gilgamesh, it was never to ask about deaths. Also, the being had asked when they had met for her not to ask about other times they had died other than the original death they had suffered.

“Thank you.” Hakuno looked up at the being and smiled a little more. “I know it’s hard to talk about that, but I really appreciate it. I wish you had found Gilgamesh back then though. I think things could have gone differently if you had.”

“They would have.” The being nodded at that thought. “Knowing my friend as I do, I know he would have found a way for the three of us to have the opportunity to truly enjoy ourselves and live much more lively adventures together. That was one of the things that you had wanted. You wanted to travel with me and see the world.”

Oh she had no doubt of that.

A part of her still wanted to wander out into the universe and see more. Gilgamesh had been eager to show her a small chunk of the more glamorous parts of the universe. Birds and life and flora that would have ripped apart any normal human’s mind of the unknown. It would have inspired the greatest of artists and earned hours upon hours of endless prose from Hans.

“Hakuno.” Enkidu leaned a bit closer to her, those eyes trying to lock with hers. “How does your magic work?”

“My magic?”

The being nodded. “When I was with you before, your magic flowed like the Euphrates, unhindered and strong. You often found it important at times to share mana with me and would become pained when you held it back. I was curious as to why you no longer have that issue.”

“I don’t remember what I was like before, but my mana is pretty useless.” Hakuno raised a hand, letting her mana flow as best she could. Already, the benefits from Ozymandias and Nitocris were gone. She needed to work on getting her mana flowing again. “The other masters on the Moon Cell, where I was with Gilgamesh and Nero, would comment on how I wasn’t really powerful. Actually, Gil found me pretty useless as well. If I hadn’t been as stubborn as I was, he probably would have left me.”

Enkidu hummed, shaking their head. “I don’t think so. May I see your hand?”

Hakuno set her hand into the being’s and felt them press their face to it.

“…You said your body was made. It’s not your original body, yes?”

“Right.”

“I think the thing that made you didn’t know what to do with the potential you held. It put in restrictions to hold you back. I found that the grail did the same for me, but I am a tool. The gods created me and I am capable of even being a wish granting device if enough mana is given to me.” Those eyes looked up at her. “Do not ask me to explain what I am. I am simply Enkidu.”

Why would she-

Mana, thick and overflowing, began to run like wildfire through her veins. She could feel every single inch of herself. This hypersensitivity was going overboard through her system. To say Ozymandias and Nitocris had helped her was almost pathetic in light of what this feeling was. Truly, the two had done nothing. Just holding his face to her hand, Enkidu had made the two look useless.

She was shaking a little now, finding the being pulling away.

“There we are. It is wonderful to have you awake and as you were once again.”

As she was?

Oh, but she had never felt like this.

Truly, there would be no way to forget something like this. Thick and flowing power like this would have been impossible to forget. Surely, she had never been like this.

“Careful,” the being murmured. They leaned against her, picking something up off the floor. Several somethings were on the floor around them.

Flowers.

Endless white flowers, blooming along the hallway as the servants began to pause and take note of something happening. Merlin was chuckling as they spoke to Gawain at the end of the hall.

“I see we have more in common!”

“Enkidu, please help me,” Hakuno murmured.

“Control, my Hakuno,” Enkidu purred. Their head leaned against her. “Let yourself be at peace. You made so many blooms for me before though. I couldn’t help but love them.”

Archer was before her in an instant, hoisting her up into his arms and looking to Caster. She could feel the hardness in his person, the tensed muscles and tight lipped expression as he held her to his chest.

“Hakuno and I are going to my chambers. If you will oversee-“

“Go, I was a king for a long time. Myself and Enkidu will oversee the movement.”

Enkidu sighed, listening as Caster moved in between her and the being and beginning to request assistance in moving Mata Hari.

So that meant it was time for the talk with Archer, didn’t it?

Hakuno looked up at the man as they wandered into their room.

Passed the fountain in the center of the chambers, around the chairs that he and Caster had set for when she had spoken to Enkidu before, straight to where the bed was waiting. He set her down only for her to find more blooms bursting forth.

Endless amounts of the things.

She really had needed to talk to Enkidu about what to do in regards to them all.

“I learned a little bit about before from Enkidu,” Hakuno began, but Archer settled at her side, pulling the camera out of the gates of Babylon and turning it back on.

Once again, she found herself looking down at the image of the two of them.

She couldn’t have been that close to the age she had been on the Moon Cell. There was a flower in her lap that was much like the ones she was creating now. There was the largest, most exuberant smile on her face. She wore a dress that was a lot like the one that she had worn on the moon cell.

The biggest thing was she seemed almost seconds from clinging to Gilgamesh next to her. Gilgamesh’s eyes gleamed in amusement, the smirk nothing less than like the one he had worn so often when they had first met. He seemed as smug as ever.

“We met before.”

Hakuno nodded. “Enkidu said that someone saved me from some mages. I called them Golden.”

“Do you remember any of that or that only from Enkidu's memory?”

She shook her head. "Enkidu memory."

Archer looked back down at the image, leaning back a little. “…You seemed like you enjoyed my company.”

She did. Hakuno couldn’t help but feel a bit upset about that point. If she had hated him then, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad. Maybe she could have argued that bad memories of him had helped her forget, but this…

This looked like she had adored him and somehow lost everything.

“Do you think maybe there’s more in the gates?”

Archer shrugged. “You forced my hand in losing part of the Gates when you were being deleted, Hakuno. If there was something, there’s a chance it is gone.”

“I don’t understand why I attacked you.”

Archer shifted uncomfortably.

“What?”

“I hurt you.”

“What?”

“I remember grabbing you.” He looked at the photo again, avoiding her expression. “I don’t remember much. Seeing your little cherub face reminds me of all the drinking I did then. I was working with the mages on creating a grail and I ripped the heart from a master in the following war to create one for myself. Useless brat, honestly.”

Excellent. She really needed to be thinking about some poor kid he had killed.

“I never understood why I needed a damn grail to begin with. The human population was out of control and a good number of the humans deserved death, of course, but ruling them?” He laughed a bit, rolling his eyes. “I am not Caster. Not fully, at least. Ruling over mongrels does not particularly interest me. I’d rather enjoy watching them attempt to live out their meaningless lives.”

So he had been corrupted or something? Maybe…

Hakuno found herself leaning against the king, pulling the camera into her hands and flipping to one last picture.

It had clearly been taken by Gilgamesh.

Her younger self was sitting carefully on the counter, holding the bloom in her hands tightly as she looked half confused. Those big brown eyes were looking straight at the person taking the picture, smile already in the midst of forming. It seemed like, for some reason, her grip on a bracelet on her arm was important. The Sumerian text on the jewelry piece was hard to read though.

Archer’s voice was right by her ear. “You loved me even then.”

“I was just a kid.”

There was no denying that she had really cared about him though. Not that she blamed her little self. Gilgamesh was charismatic. No doubt, she had found a way to put up with him even when she was little.

Or maybe Gilgamesh had found her even more of an amusing toy than before.

Archer’s arms wrapped around her more, lips pressing against her neck lightly. “Why are you still making flowers in here, Hakuno?”

“I don’t know. I can’t really stop it…” She looked down at the floor covered in flowers now. “Enkidu said I needed to calm down but-“

Archer’s lips pressed against hers, stealing her air and the mana that was flowing so thickly through her veins. She couldn’t help the sound that escaped her, her arms wrapping around him tighter. The camera stumbled to nearby as she fell against the sheets.

As soon as it was started, he was pulling back. The smirk on his face was broad as he licked his lips.

“I needed to rid you of that useless royal’s affections from earlier. Had I known her intentions, I would have stopped her from touching you in the first place.”

Useless royal… as in Medb?

“She’s an odd servant.”

“She’s an insult to royals everywhere.” Archer resumed looking at the two photos of her younger self, amused from the look on his face. “Touching what is mine is unforgiveable. She’ll learn soon enough that you are not for public enjoyment.”

“Gil,” Hakuno leaned against his shoulder, ignoring his possessive claims again. “Thank you.”

Those carmine eyes turned to her, eyebrow raised. “Oh?”

“Enkidu said that ‘Golden’ saved me from mages. If you saved my younger self, then you’re responsible for me being alive.”

“You’ll have to continue to be only mine,” Archer replied, returning his eyes to the image. “If you are truly grateful, continue to serve me well and continue to prove yourself as someone worth being a servant for. Otherwise, I will find my sacrifices to be in vain.”

“What do you think about the servants that remain?”

“The servants?”

“Karna, Gawain, Artoria, and the others.”

“They’re strong servants, some of the stronger ones in Chaldea. If I had been someone going after servants here, I would have left a few for last minute slaughter. Ramses and Karna would have proven to be powerful opponents. Combined with Merlin or Waver, I would have looked for support in an assault.”

“Is Nursery and that orange dressed woman strong?”

“Mata Hari and Nursery are weak. Same for a few others. Medb has never proven to be strong. Same with the bitch goddess.” Archer frowned. “They are noisy though. Harming them would have proven to be a noisy task.”

“So someone could have saved the noisy and powerful servants for last.”

“Are you thinking we’re under attack?”

“I don’t think there’s a lot of alternatives. The master is missing with a handful of servants and others are completely gone. Mash is unconscious. If I were attacking, I would have removed the master and her second before going after the servants.”

“Merlin has offered to continue providing mana to the servants we have left.”

“I could help-“

“Don’t offer to help him with that.” Archer leaned in. “If you assist with them, you will have less mana for myself, Caster, and Enkidu.”

“And Cu Lancer.”

“Yes, about him…” Archer pushed her to the bed more, looming over her now with the start of a smirk on his lips. “He needs to be removed from your collection. Having him as a servant of yours means that Medb will have more interest in you. She enjoys anyone that has the admiration or loyalty to those hounds.”

“He’s not a hound.”

“His name means hound. He is nothing more than a pet, Hakuno. Even his own people knew that.”

“We can decide on removing him as my servant after this mess is cleared up and I am sitting next to Gudako and talking to her.” Hakuno narrowed her gaze at the man. “I haven’t forgotten the nice fact that I would have been able to meet and talk to Gudako a lot sooner if someone hadn’t been hoarding me away in his room.”

“I could have put you in the Gates,” the man threatened.

He was an idiot. Then again, going into the Gates would have meant she would have time to find if there was anything linking to past. One of these days, she would find a way to search through his hoarder’s paradise for the damn clues to who she had been before.

Another day. Not today.

“Enkidu seems fond of you.”

“So does Medb and Ishtar.”

The man grimaced. “You seem intent on reminding me of things that will tick me off, Hakuno. Do you intend to be tossed into the Gates so badly?”

“I want to focus on what’s going to happen from here. Remembering things that happened before the Moon Cell is low on my priorities right now.”

“You were a cute kid.” Archer’s lips pressed against her neck. “Still plain. I don’t know why the gods burdened you with being so horribly plain, but you have a certain… promise to the way you looked in those pictures.”

Ah, the sweet promise of naivety. She could already tell that, had things been different, he would have no doubt indoctrinated her into believing he was the equivalent of perfection. She probably would have been no better than a temple maiden.

Head temple maiden to Gilgamesh.

Her poor little self.

“I find it interesting that you were wearing a bracelet meant for promised youth,” he murmured.

“Promised youth?”

Archer pulled back, pulling the camera back into his hands and turning it for her to see again. He pointed at the bracelet she had on. “This is a bracelet that nobles had their children wear when they had found someone that they wanted to marry them to.”

“So it’s an engagement bracelet?!”

“It is. It’s funny to see how you cling to it. Look at you.” He held the camera closer. “You must have been given to me, Hakuno.”

“Would Enkidu have recognized it?!”

“I doubt it. They spent more time in the temples than seeing weddings. Probably would have thought it was nothing more than an amusing trinket.”

Clearly they didn’t have it though or they would have given it to her. There was no way that her young self would have been that foolish, would she?

Gods, she had no idea.

“Such a loyal servant to your own servant.” Archer laughed against her, his arms wrapping around her waist. “I cannot say I do not approve. Your mana output is far greater than I had anticipated it could become. I was correct in entrusting a contract to you.”

“There is no way that this is an engagement bracelet.”

“They are handed out by suitors to their intended.” Gilgamesh opened the gates, waiting a moment before he smiled more enthusiastically. “The fact that I do not possess such a thing now-“

“You said yourself that you dumped part of the Gates-“

“Useless things, Hakuno. I did not dump things that meant the most to me into the Moon Cell. I have no desire to be completely without my things. Do you take me for some kind of fool?”

“Well I don’t have the bracelet so it’s probably gone by now.”

Enkidu would have probably shown her the thing if they had been holding it. They had been eager to show her the flower from before.

“Ah,” Archer purred the sound, moving to stand up. “But Waver said he had something that needed to be returned.”

“Don’t you dare ask him-“

Archer was already climbing to his feet though, stalking towards the door like a predator with its prey in sight. He vanished, leaving her to groan loudly and lay back.

An engagement bracelet. Of all the damn things.

Hopefully Caster or someone would stop the king before he decided to harass the poor caster about some bracelet from way back in that time. Unlike Enkidu, it would have been hard for the man to have been able to bring something like that back-

“Hakuno,” Archer grinned, holding up a box.

“He had it?”

Gilgamesh opened the box, showing the blue and gold Sumerian bracelet in all its glory. “I owe the caster for its safe keeping. Come here and properly accept this so that we both owe the useless servant.”

“Gilgamesh-“

“Come here, Hakuno.”

She slid off the bed reluctantly, crossing the room and holding out her hand. All too happily, he was placing the thing around her wrist, pulling her hand up to his lips.

“You should be more gracious about this, Hakuno. It was you, after all, who originally welcomed such a piece to your person.”

“I was a kid,” she pointed out again.

“And you so happily held onto the bracelet for a picture. I saw the look in those eyes of yours. You should wear such a look more often with me.”

She was absolutely positive that his ego would be impossible if she did such a thing. Still, her eyes drifted back down to the beads.
Something gleamed.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know. There’s mana in this.”

“Unsurprising. You wore it as a child.”

The mana shifted as Gilgamesh touched it. Hakuno could only jump as she felt her own mana respond. There was movement, a whisper of noises and sounds. Indiscernible as she felt Gilgamesh nearly lose his balance. Her hands pressed to his chest.

What the hell was happening?

“Gil?”

Those eyes of his remained closed for a moment. His grip on her hands tightening. Those carmine eyes opened only for him to lean forward, his forehead pressing to hers.

A half smile came to his features as she felt the whisper of mana running through him.

“My little magician…”

Chapter Text

“Gil, are you-“

His lips pressed against hers again, his hand going to the small of her back as the door opened behind them. She could sense them both being watched, but Archer’s lips were moving against her own and he was all but lifting her into his arms. What she needed to do was pull back, see who was watching them. She needed to apologize for them coming in to see that.

What she needed to do was not kiss him back and sigh into the embrace.

What she needed to do was not wrap her arms around his shoulders and close her eyes.

“The poor woman,” Saber’s voice declared.

“Mmm, that’s how someone does it. Well done, Golden King,” Medb purred.

“Women. If you would so kindly provide us with a few minutes.” Caster’s voice was closer. Hakuno could feel his arms wrapping around her waist, pulling her free from Archer. “I think that we could talk at dinner. Hakuno’s magic-“

“Is that of Merlin and therefore something I should be concerned about.” Saber crossed her arms, standing her ground. “I will have my few minutes of alone time to discuss the situation and her plans.”

“Medb,” Caster tried.

“Oh, I’m not going anywhere.” Medb smiled proudly.

“Women,” Archer’s good mood seemed to be continuing. She could feel him keeping her close, dragging his Caster self closer. “Come back later.”

“Hakuno,” Medb moved a bit closer and Hakuno found the ground beneath her gone. She looked up at Archer, frowning a little as he turned away from their guests.

“Hakuno has placed me in a lenient mood. Do not ruin it by thinking you can come demand time to speak.”

Saber moved forward anyway, standing before them both and glaring up at Gilgamesh. “Fine. If I cannot have alone time with her, then I will say it here and now. I do not want to trust you.” Those eyes drifted to her. “Archer is unreliable. He is self-centered and arrogant. He is in whatever games for his own ends. As such, I don’t trust anything that he thinks is for the best. He tried to destroy humanity during the fifth Holy Grail war and almost would have succeeded if it hadn’t been for my master and his allies.”

She took a second to sigh before continuing.

“That being said, you have Merlin’s power. I can feel it coming off even more right now. Since you are his by kinship, I have a responsibility towards you. I may not know what to think of it at this point, but if he claims you, then I have to as well. As your king, I need to advis-“

“Excuse you,” both Gilgamesh snarled together. Caster’s axe was brought into fruition. Medb shook where she stood, eyes glazing over as she smiled even brighter.

Saber held her ground, arms crossed. “As Merlin’s heir, she is tied to him. Not to you. She will naturally be my responsibility to look after and protect. This includes threats she has unknowingly walked into.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Caster somehow managed to bite out without losing his menacing look. “Hakuno has already accepted that she will be remaining at our side after this war is done.”

“She has-“

Hakuno blinked as she was disposed into Caster’s arms. Archer was already moving forward, armor coming into fruition, more golden and pompous than normal. Those red eyes just looked right down that nose at her, the distaste for her evident on every part of his person.

“Hakuno,” Archer told the servant, “belongs to me. Entirely. No hereditary traits or kinship comes close to my claim upon her. You may stand there and spout your nonsense, but a king who is no king cannot take what belongs to me. You,” he emphasized, “cannot take what belongs to me.”

“She is Merlin’s-“

“She is mine.” Archer’s voice was going soft, punctuating the words. “Entirely. She prayed to me for survival. She built her hope around my image. I gave her what she needed to live. I gave her dreams and a stubbornness to survive.”

The man leaned closer to her.

“What has your magician given her? Confusion? Cryptic words? What about your so called knights? Do you think they realized her intrinsic value and treated her thusly? I find you coming into my sanctuary, wishing to complain about me to the one person in this universe that believes in me as no other will. You truly think, in that feeble, mongrel mind of yours, that you can change her mind? About me? I teach her of pleasure and provide that which you cannot give, Saber. There is no currency you own that can compare to mine.”

“Hakuno is not something that can be bought, king of heroes.”

He laughed, a sound that echoed in the room. Caster looked down at her as Hakuno tried to make sense of what the man was saying. She could related to his expression, the raised brow and frown.

Yeah. She wasn’t sure what Archer was talking about either.

Things were just confusing in general.

Caster’s gaze drifted to the bracelet around her wrist, his eyes widening a little as Hakuno shook her head. This wasn’t the time for that talk, she thought to herself more than anything. Caster didn’t need to bring that talk into the room.

“Hakuno is Merlin’s responsibility and will be treated as his kin,” Saber told the man. “That is what I came here to say. Now, building trust and working her way into being in my round table is something that will take time and patience. However, I will not abandon her. Especially not to you and your… others.”

“Then we’re in agreement.”

“Are you agreeing that you shouldn’t be-“

“You will follow my master. That is what you just informed me. Even if she is with me and my other selves, you will follow her commands because she is related to your Merlin.”

“…That doesn’t mean I will trust her-“

“It doesn’t need to. You will follow what is said because that is the only thing that will find you your master. Since yours is missing and your fellow servants are missing in many different cases, you have no other options that are promising anything while Hakuno, a blood relation to your Merlin, is promising to find Gudako. Even if she were declaring me to be the greatest servant in this entire place, you will listen to her due to her relations to your Merlin.”

“…I won’t blindly follow-“

“You are intelligent. You see the sense in listening to her. You know that the servants she has following her are stronger than yourself. Alone, there are those that are arguable in power,” he relented, “but combined: Enkidu, myself, Ramses, Cu Chulainn… You don’t need me telling you what Enkidu and myself could do alone to you. Your knights would find themselves without a leader.”

Saber turned her gaze away from him, unable to maintain the eye contact.

He turned her face back to his, tilting her chin up. “Don’t be foolish, Saber. You waste my time with this conversation. Do you not trust your own fellow’s blood? Are you saying that Merlin was unreliable, despite his eccentricities?”

“Of course not!”

“Then you will trust Hakuno?”

“I… Let me go.” She smacked his hand away, glaring at the man. “…I will trust until it’s proven to be a mistake… I guess.” She blinked, staring into space. Where her declaration of work with but not trust had turned into a declaration of trust, she probably did not know. Those green eyes turned her way as Hakuno sighed.

“You don’t need to trust me, Saber. I am more than happy to earn your trust. Working with those you’ve just met is enough trust to begin with.”

Her shoulders slumped a little, a small smile coming to her face as Saber nodded. “Thank you, Hakuno.”

“That was cute.” Medb clapped from behind Saber. “I would like to talk as well, but I can wait. I’ve been entertained a great deal from this conversation.”

Really?

Hakuno frowned as the woman hurried towards the open door. She could hear the woman calling out to Cu Caster as she left.

“She is obsessive about the man,” Gil Caster murmured. “Consider it a blessing she just left.”

Right.

“I’m leaving.” Saber told them. “I know Merlin will want to speak to Hakuno later. He was discussing the opportunity to refine her mana output, whatever that means.”

“That’s fine,” Archer replied.

“I will want to oversee that training a bit, just to understand what we’re dealing with when it comes to the two of them.”

“Fine.”

She stared up at him, frowning more. “…I don’t know what she has done to put you in the mood you’re in, but… If you become this amicable in most things, I could learn to trust more.”

“We will see you at dinner.”

Once again, Saber was no doubt expecting something more. A quip, a sneer, something that would set them into arguing. What she didn’t expect was Archer to merely cross his arms, holding himself back from anything of the sort. His eyes were already drifting from her, dismissing her with all body language.

Hakuno found his eyes going to her instead.

They didn’t move until the door was closed.

Caster’s movement were away from Archer. “You aren’t acting normal.”

“I am acting more normal than I would otherwise. Hand me Hakuno, Caster.”

“I have never once seen you have a decent conversation with Saber. You never act like this.” Caster narrowed his eyes, holding her closer. “What happened while I was helping the other servants? What are you planning, Archer?”

“Caster, put our queen down.”

“Our queen?” Caster moved a step back again. “You need to take a minute from whatever intoxication you’ve partaken in and-“

Hakuno pressed a hand to the man’s chest, climbing out of his arms and moving forward. Her eyes drifted up to Archer’s as she approached him.

She knew Archer.

Not fully. No one would ever fully understand and know Archer. He was a self-centered, arrogant asshole like Saber had been saying. He was charismatic, able to turn people’s words around until they were left wondering how they had gotten to a whole new point.

But this wasn’t like him.

Those eyes were absolutely delighted at the sight of her coming to him though. She could feel his armor disappear, a black biker jacket and black slacks appearing in their stead as she pressed her hands to his chest.

Different.

She had come to think he had a preference for his own culture’s attire.

“What happened when I put on the bracelet,” Hakuno asked quietly.

“You did find me,” Archer murmured. Those arms looped around her, pulling her in as he leaned to continue to just purr into her ear. “You were this foolish little brat, Hakuno. You ignored all my insults, had me believing you were Enkidu for a while there, and then you made me things.”

“Made you things?”

“Statues. Flowers. You even went so far as to make me a crown because your king needed a crown.” He laughed a little. “You were such a foolish thing. I had figured I would simply use your servant to my own ends and then use your mana for myself, but you seemed to have some connection to Enkidu. You knew too much about them… about the two of us… I needed to keep you away from everyone.”

“Archer. Hakuno,” Caster was glaring now, confused and not pleased at that.

Hakuno pulled away from the man a bit, finding him holding her in place.

“I won’t make the mistake I made before, Hakuno. You told me yourself that you were mine.”

Had she?

Or had her younger self?

Hakuno pressed a hand to his chest, shaking her head. “I don’t know anything about that, Archer. I barely remember Enkidu.”

“I know.” He laced his fingers with hers, amused more than anything. “I’ll think of a way to help you remember in return. Between Enkidu and myself, I’m sure we will think of something.”

She really didn’t need that being the case. The last time he had helped her remember something, he had sat naked in her classroom and given her a five minute lecture.

The setup time and how long he had been sitting naked in that damn room was something that came to mind far too often.

“Archer. Hakuno.”

“Sorry, Caster.” Hakuno looked over at the mage king, smiling sheepishly. “I just-“

“Hakuno had stored some memories in her bracelet that I gave her. I’m enjoying all the benefits of remembering everything. Finally.” He added that last word all too happily. She could feel his hand gripping hers tightly though, as though the thought of releasing her was too much.

“Yes, well,” Caster crossed his arms, frowning still. “I don’t know why we needed Saber to be pacified in such a way, but I won’t argue it. Especially if it’s to our ends. Your babbling was amusing to watch, if nothing else. That being said, I would like an explanation as to why Hakuno is now sporting a bracelet that is not meant for anyone.”

“I gifted it to her.”

“And why would you decide that?”

“Archer told me that it’s an engagement bracelet,” Hakuno stated, earning a laugh from the man before her.

“An engagement- Hakuno, there’s much more insinuation than some paltry words and promises to break later attached to such a bracelet. It’s more of a symbol of unerring protection and devotion, both from the person who gives it and the person who receives it. Think of it more like a dog collar, stating point blank that the gift giver has decided that the being is of value and is under their protection.”

Hakuno glanced up at Archer, earning a shrug. “Semantics.”

“So it’s a symbol of ownership or protection or what?” She wasn’t going to deal with these roundabout explanations.

Caster closed the distance between them, lifting the blue and gold beaded bracelet up for closer inspection. Gilgamesh’s name was emblazoned on the side of the gold beads, leaving no doubt who the person who gifted the bracelet was. “This bracelet is normally what is given to a head temple maiden by gods or to husbands who feel their wives could be easily lost. The only thing more permanent is ink on their skin, but such acts tend to leave the person tattooed to have their ink become infected.” He wrinkled his nose at the very idea.

Hakuno glanced up at her Gilgamesh again.

“Again,” Caster went on, “I ask, why are we deciding that Hakuno needs such a thing?”

Why would he do such a thing was obvious though.

She couldn’t blame him. Nor would she.

She was easily lost. Over and over, she had been separated from him. She had become the master to Nero, Tamamo, and Altera. She had met servants upon servants, forgetting names at times. She had been dumped into a singularity and she had been tortured by BB.

Even before then, she had apparently been in a hospital and tormented further. She had come and go from Gilgamesh’s life like two intertwining threads.

Why would he want to make their time more constant with her?

“I appreciate having it,” Hakuno told him, holding the bracelet to her chest. “I don’t care for being separated from you both. The fact that it tends to keep happening is frustrating. I think it’s better to have something like this.”

“Well said, Hakuno.” Gilgamesh pat her head, grinning towards Caster as she glanced his way. “Do not question my decisions, Caster.”

“Hakuno is our queen, not our temple maiden.”

“I would think I’m more like… I don’t know, a retainer or something.” Hakuno looked between the two men.

“Don’t be insulting, Hakuno. If I claim you as something, do not lessen your value.” Archer’s hand pushed at her, making her slump a little. Her eyes drifted off to the side, to where Waver was standing.

“I came to ask if you had received the bracelet I was holding onto, but I see it has been returned.” The man pulled out a cigarette, lighting it quietly as he looked over them. “…There’s nothing wrong with being a retainer either. Allow her what she wants, kings. At the very least, if something were to happen, she could tell your story.”

“Nothing will happen.” Both kings growled.

Waver shook his head. “I came to inform you that dinner is going to be in a couple hours. Also, Iskander and Enkidu are proposing to fight one another. Caster, since you seem fond of stopping the clay being from doing more than necessary.”

Caster sighed. “I will stop them.”

“Thank you.” Waver turned, glancing back their way as he crossed the threshold. “Oh, and Hakuno?”

“Yes?”

“I do apologize, for what it’s worth.” The man pulled his cigarette away from his face and sighed. “I don’t want to bother with old business. I’m here to do my job and return to my room. Whatever you need to talk about, I suppose I will hear out. However, I will remain at a distance, for no other reason than a desire not to fight your beast friend. I know for a fact that those claws of his still haunt me.”

Caster motioned him along, giving them a good before he left.

“We should probably close the door.”

Archer was already heading there, shutting and locking the door. Those eyes drifted over to her.

“Can you help me sort through the servants we have?” Hakuno moved to sit in one of the chairs from before, rubbing at the start of a headache. “I think we’re going to need to at least have me know names. Classes will be a bit much to learn.”

“Hakuno.”

“I guess we could start with those that seem to have more authority. I think Medb’s class would be important. Maybe Sparticus too. That’s the big one, right?” Hakuno looked over at the archer as he walked towards her, learning over her.

He tilted her chin back. “Hakuno, I want to talk about this.”

“I don’t.” She closed her eyes. “You and Enkidu remember and that’s wonderful, but the others are depending on us now. Saber and Gawain. Karna and Ozymandias. Everyone here is looking to us. Don’t think I didn’t notice that your child self is missing. Someone is doing something to servants here.”

“You still can’t control your mana. Helping the others will have to come second to this.”

“I will give the power to you, Caster, and Enkidu then.”

“Hakuno, I don’t think you realize how much power you’re putting out if you think the three of us are enough.”

“I have Cu as well.”

“Hakuno.” Archer scoffed, stroking at her cheek. He leaned in a bit more. “My foolish, naïve little magician. There is far more to talk about than the fool running around removing servants and the master of Chaldea.”

“All I want to talk about is how we’re going to find Gudako.”

“We should start with checking the rayshift rooms.”

Thank goodness.

Hakuno nodded. “I thought I heard Cu Caster mention that they checked for signs that Gudako had been dumped in a singularity.”

“Iskander, Alexander, and Waver checked outside. They didn’t find anything obviously.”

“So they’re not outside of Chaldea.”

“The servants could be. Gudako will still be here though. She may be unconscious.”

Smart. Hakuno leaned back in her seat as Gilgamesh moved to sit nearby. “Then we’ll need to do a search of Chaldea. We can break the area into sectors and meet in the dining hall. If we see someone isn’t returning, then we can assume our problem is in that area of the place.”

“Dangerous but smart. If we run into them, we can handle the issue.”

“It’ll be like with the labyrinth.”

Archer yawned a bit. Crossing his legs and leaning against one of the arms of his chair. “That would be best. Once that’s done, we can focus on what’s important.”

“I don’t want to remember.”

Those eyes drifted to hers.

He was not amused by that declaration obviously.

In the end, remembering would only work against her. Enkidu had felt guilt over it. Waver apologized, begging for things to remain civil. She had nightmares whenever she went to sleep. She had stolen Gilgamesh’s memories, sealing them away. No matter how much more would be explained if she had those memories, she would only end up being all the more upset about them.

“I want you to remember me at least,” Gilgamesh told her.

“You can tell me about it then.” Hakuno offered, “once this is done and we go back to Uruk. You can spend days telling Enkidu and I about our time together.”

“You wish to go back to Uruk once this is done?”

“We can go anywhere, honestly, but I would like to go to Uruk again.”

Archer snorted, but there was a grin on his face. He looked around at the room again, taking in the details of it before he looked over at her again. “Your younger self would be proud of you, if that means anything towards wishing to get those memories back. She read through my entire story in just a couple days.”

“She read it?”


“Entirely in Sumerian.”

The damn little her was impressive then. Her mind didn’t have that capability as well anymore. She still found herself struggling at times with Sumerian.

They sat in silence for a time, Archer’s arms pulling her onto his lap. She could still feel her mana going strong. It was disconcerting, feeling something flowing from you in such mass and not finding an end. She almost felt like she needed to find a way to restrict it, simmer it down to a workable amount.

Still, Archer seemed to enjoy it. His hands stroked at her hair, eyes closing as he simply enjoyed the silence.

The door unlocked after a time, Caster and Enkidu both entering. Hakuno smiled at them, holding a finger to her lips to keep them silent.

Let the king sleep, she wanted to say.

He needed the time to gather and straighten those thoughts. Honestly, she needed time to gather and straighten her own thinking. Enkidu was here. Merlin was her family. Gilgamesh and her had met before she had been a product of the Moon Cell.

So many little things.

Enkidu climbed onto the chair with them, settling on top of their laps as Hakuno found herself chuckling. Her arms wrapped around the being, pulling them close as Archer merely opened one eye.

“I enjoy being involved.”

I’ll allow it, seeing as you stopped me from killing Hakuno before.”

Enkidu hummed, closing their eyes. “You remember then?”

“My memories were in Hakuno’s bracelet.”

“How strange, but then again, I am a clay being and you’re an ancient Sumerian king. We do not have much room to speak.”

Hakuno leaned against the king and closed her eyes. She could feel Caster move to sit at their feet, leaning against Archer’s legs. “We shouldn’t fall asleep in here,” Caster warned. “We will need to be in the dining hall in a couple hours and be prepared with plans for the others. They will want to know how we plan to help finding Gudako.”

“Archer, let’s move to the bed.” Hakuno looked over at Enkidu. “We could take a small nap. Just for a while. I think I need to close my eyes or I may get a headache.”

Enkidu climbed off Archer’s lap again, pulling them both towards the bed. “Then it’s settled. Three to one. Come on, Caster.”

Caster groaned. “You fools.”

“Just a nap,” Hakuno told him. “We’ll go straight to the dining hall when we wake up. You’ll see. Two hours.”

Caster slipped into bed next to Archer and wrapped his arms around her, leaving Enkidu on her other side and Archer under her.

She could feel the bracelet against her wrist, confirming only what she knew in her mind and in her heart at this point.

She belonged to Gilgamesh.

No matter who and what happened. She belonged to him completely.

Chapter Text

There was a new sound outside when Hakuno opened her eyes.

There was a new sound in general.

Rain.

Thunder crackled and roared in the distance amongst the sound, drawing her attention from the bed to the-

“Enkidu. Gilgamesh.”

The three servants around her opened their eyes blearily, Enkidu’s arms reaching out immediately to pull her into their arms. She could feel their lips press against her cheek lightly as they slowly pulled themselves from their slumber.

“Good morning, Hakuno.”

“We slept for more than a couple hours.” Hakuno pulled away, shaking her head vigorously. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think we’re in Chaldea anymore.”

Caster didn’t spare a moment, climbing to his feet and pressing a hand to the window. His eyes drifted over the scene outside, He looked behind them.

“Medb. Ishtar. Cu Chulainn. Waver. Awaken this instant.”

There were other beds. Several of them. The bedroom doors were gone, but the beds from those rooms were in the hall. Hakuno looked over to find Medb climbing out of Cu Chulainn lancer’s bed, her eyes drifting to the windows before she scowled.

“It doesn’t rain in Chaldea.”

“No shit,” Waver looked around, frowning heavily. “Where the hell are my cigarettes?”

“I don’t know, but if you find them, share with the group.” Cu groaned at the look the woman nearby gave him. “Actually, give me the whole damn pack.”

“Buy your own-“

A package fell into both’s hands. They stared over at Archer as the man yawned in a bored manner. “So it’s raining. I don’t see too much to be alarmed with other than the fact that we’ve all been kicked to the hallway. Whoever is behind this is probably a caster.” Those carmine eyes drifted to his caster self, the archer’s mood dampening. “So find them and kill them.”

“An easy task. Why didn’t I think of such a thing,” Caster purred. “Perhaps because there is no caster in Chaldea capable of this.”

“Of moving beds?”

“No, you dumbass. No one that is a caster here is capable of making the weather change, making bedrooms disappear, and moving our beds without us awakening in a short span of time. Why don’t you pull your-“

“Can you sense Merlin or Iskander? Maybe Artoria or Scathach?” Hakuno looked over at the caster before looking over at Waver. “Maybe you, Waver?”

“I don’t sense anything. It feels like we’re alone here,” Waver replied.

“It’s as he said,” Caster Gil agreed.

Hakuno looked around again. The hallway had a dead end now. For whatever reason, they seemed to be trapped into going only one way. Naturally, going that one way could easily lead to a trap, but the outdoors was a heavy rainfall and the snow was melting. She wasn’t the best when it came to understanding weather, but the rainfall meant it was warming up outside and the snow would be melting. Who knew how much was out there.

Breaking and leaving through the window wasn’t wise.

Hakuno glanced over at the wall.

Busting through it to find Gil’s room wouldn’t be the wisest choice with all that liquor in there. They didn’t want to end up setting the place on fire.

“Hakuno, what are you thinking?”

“This feels like before, doesn’t it, Gil?”

Archer paused. “…She’s dead, Hakuno. I beheaded her.”

She shook her head. Cu Berserker had mentioned that she was a servant. If that was the case, then it was possible for her to have survived. Servants died often. Cu Chulainn would easily attest to that.

“Who are you both talking about?”

“We’re talking about that insect from before that tortured Hakuno,” Archer growled. “She can’t be here, Hakuno. She was a part of the Moon Cell and the Moon Cell is gone. There’s no chance for her to be-“

“That’s all well and good,” Medb was slipping onto the bed, yawning as she spread herself out across Enkidu and Hakuno’s lap. Hakuno could feel her hand stroking along her jawline. “But I don’t really care about history lessons. It’s raining. It’s dark in here which means someone took out the light system. Really sets the mood, but I prefer the lights on. I like to know what I’m up against.”

Hakuno stopped her hand and looked over at Enkidu. “Do you think you can blast a hole into the wall at the end of the hallway over there?”

“Why are we not using the perfectly good hallway,” Ishtar pointed out. “That’s dumb to make a door when a good one is nearby.”

Waver shook his head.

He was catching on.

“I don’t care. It’s dumb to do that. Then again, rolling around like you all are like mutts in a pile,” the woman brushed her hair over one shoulder. “I’m leaving. I want to find Ereshkigal and Emiya.”

“Natural selection at work,” Enkidu murmured, moving to stand up and rolling back their sleeves. Those green eyes of theirs turned to her. “Hakuno, I can give it a shot, but we may end up outside. I don’t remember the hallways well.”

“I don’t either, but let’s give this a shot. I don’t want to walk into a trap.”

Waver was talking to Ishtar, arguing quietly as Caster and Archer book looked at the wall as well. Medb remained behind her, keeping close.

“Let go of her, you damn hag,” Cu hissed.

“Hakuno and I are getting acquainted. We both have such great taste in men and in fighting strategies.” Her face pressed against her back and Hakuno tensed. “I appreciate another woman who knows how to collect, although we’re in negotiation time now. Let me make sure we understand that we’re on the same side.”

Both Gilgamesh Caster and Archer looked bemused at that. She could feel Archer tugging at her as he nodded at Enkidu.

“Blast the wall. Let’s get out of here.”

“Blast the wall. You’re quire demanding.” Enkidu shook their head, turning away before their body began to change. Slowly, methodically, their body grew, the horns and claws appeared once more as they charged at the wall.

There was no stopping them at a certain point. Hakuno tugged Caster back and covered Medb’s face as the impact occurred. Dust and debris flew. There was a scrambling on the other side of the wall alongside screaming. They could see something through the wall a moment before a large mountain of a being plowed through the wall.

“Oh good!” Merlin’s voice called out from the other side of the wall.

“Merlin!”

“My child!” Merlin laughed a little, coming forth from the debris with Ozymandias and Nitocris at his side. Enkidu slowly returned to their normal form as Ozymandias hurried forward.

“Are you harmed?”

“I’m fine.”

Ozymandias wrapped his arms around her, looking over at Gilgamesh. “We cannot separate at this point for resting.”

“We can’t,” both Gils agreed. Archer looked over the group and nodded.

“Cu Caster, Lancer, Waver, Medb, bitch goddess, Caster, and now Merlin, Ramses, and Nitocris,” Archer looked over at Merlin.

“We lost everyone else?” The magician asked.

“That or they’re simply stuck behind walls as well.”

“I need Emiya,” Ishtar scowled at them all. “Where’s my servant?”

“We still need to find Cu Alter.” Medb crossed her arms.

“Is there a problem with the two of us?” Caster grinned at her, leaning close. “Are we poor substitutes?”

“Oh- Oh no! I just-“ Medb paused, smiling despite her best efforts otherwise. “I just- Well, Berserker was here with me from-“

“If you find him, tell me.” Enkidu moved closer, eyeing Ozymandias.

They didn’t need this stomping around and line drawing. Hakuno moved into the center of the space, looking around. “We need to be smart about this. Obviously, we’re going to need to be prepared for whoever is doing this to come back. We can split into groups for the evenings, warn one another if anyone comes. If we keep a couple lookouts, we should be able to keep energy up.”

“Energy?” Ishtar laughed. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but some of us aren’t feeling particularly fueled. I think I’m about a day from returning home. Which is fine, honestly. I’m ready to return to the realm of the gods.”

“My energy is draining as well,” Medb added.

“Merlin?” Hakuno looked over at the magician.

“I can take on a couple servants,” Gil Caster offered, looking around. “What about you, Cu Caster?”

“I’m pretty damn drained,” the man admitted, shrugging.

“I could take on a few,” Merlin offers.

“We’re going to have to separate out into groups for mana.” Hakuno looked around. “Merlin, maybe-“

“I call Hakuno!” Medb moved forward, wrapping her arms around her as well.

“I have already decided Hakuno is my master,” Ramses purred.

“I’m with Hakuno as well,” Nitocris replied, moving Medb off quickly.

“Not everyone is being attached to my master,” Archer growled.

“Actually, that sounds like a wiser course of action, my king.” Merlin grinned. “While I could take on servants, my mana will drain far more quickly than Hakuno. Hakuno’s power will suffice quite nicely. I can support her myself, although it feels as though our familial bond will suit this task quite well enough.”

More servants?

There wasn’t a choice though. Hakuno took another look around. Eleven servants.

“How bad are the rest of you-“

Caster Cu held up a sleeve, showing the disappearing act in motion. He shook his head. “I won’t have more than a few minutes left. I was helping Mata Hari last night when she was panicking. Runework requires mana.”

There was no choice then.

“You all go back to Gudako the moment we find her,” Hakuno warned them. She slipped around Archer’s grasp, pulling Cu Caster to herself and finding him laughing.

“Hakuno!” The mage king grabbed her from behind. Gil’s face was reddened a bit. “Just a touch is enough. Just recite the lines.”

“Sorry.”

Lancer looked away, biting his lip as Archer looked his way.

“I accept your contract, Hakuno,” Cu Caster murmured, leaning in close.

“I accept your contract,” Waver told her after that, avoiding her gaze.

Merlin next.

Ozymandias lifted her up into his arms and laughed as he welcomed the contract.

Nitocris kissed her cheeks as she accepted.

Medb didn’t even pause, yanking her in the moment Nitocris was done. Her lips were once more moving against hers, bold and hot against her own. Hakuno mewled against her, finding Archer yanking her off. The contract was done though. Medb’s eyes blazed with heat, her eyes drifting up to Archer next.

She licked her lips.

“I’ve always had a weakness for power, king.”

“Your insolence won’t be tolerated,” Ozymandias warned nearby.

Enkidu leaned behind her, holding her back as Ishtar looked over at her.

“Ishtar…”

“I won’t.”

It felt like the whole room paused as the woman said that. Hakuno frowned, motioning again for the goddess to hurry up and come over to her side.

“I would rather be sent back to the realm of the gods,” Ishtar replied, shaking her head. “Gudako earned my respect. She valued me and saw potential. Along with that, she did not make my vessel feel so strangely. I know what your intentions are and I don’t want to join you, even temporarily. I will disappear, but everything will be on my terms. No necessary alliances. No being on the same team as the creation of Enki and the rude king with no sense of taste.”

“So we’re done,” Archer grinned. “Good. From here on out, Hakuno and I are in charge.”

“And how did you decide this, oh great king?” Lancer leaned against his spear, laughing a little.

“Archer has experience leading, both his caster and his archer self,” Hakuno pointed out. She could already feel Archer smirking at that. “We’ll be three teams for now. Caster Gil, Merlin, and Cu Lancer will be one group. Ishtar, you, Archer, Nitocris and Cu Caster will be a group.”

“And then I am with you?” Enkidu moved a bit closer.

“Right.” Hakuno smiled. “Enkidu, Ozymandias, Medb, and Waver are with me.”

“Why?”

Both kings stared at her.

“We all need Casters,” Hakuno pointed out. “Merlin will be helpful with boosting Lancer and supporting Caster Gil. Ishtar may vanish, but Nitocris and Cu Caster can at least support her a while longer. Maybe we don’t need to say goodbye so easily.”

Ishtar frowned at her, but she said nothing.

Gil was pissed. There was no doubt that the archer was ready to kill her for this team composition. Still, Caster needed Merlin.

“Ishtar, trade with Cu Lancer.” Caster crossed his arms, as though thinking on about this as well. “I’ll kill Lancer if he’s on my team.”

“Eh?!”

“Fine.” Ishtar brushed one of her twin tails over her shoulder, nodding. “I don’t want to be near Archer anyway… Unless you have a problem with someone questioning your choices, Hakuno.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“Fine.” Ozymandias was holding her close. “We shall split up then?”

Hakuno looked over at Archer. “You remember how we did things before?”

“Sector by sector,” he confirmed.

Hakuno nodded, looking to Caster Gil. “We’re going to split up and wander out. If anyone senses anything, you need to send some mana to me. I’ll do the same if I sense anything. If we’re all smart about this, we can find the person responsible before anyone else gets hurt.”

“We meet back here in three hours,” Hakuno told them all.

“Team,” Caster motioned at the others, turning away. “Let’s finish this.”

Archer moved in closer, leaning in close.

“I don’t want to split us up,” Hakuno murmured.

“I will return to this spot for us to be together again,” he replied. “Until then, don’t do anything foolish, my magician. I’d hate to chase after you to another singularity. I’ll think of a way for you to-“

“You’ll find a way for me to repay you for doing this. I know.” Hakuno grinned. “Don’t do anything stupid while Enkidu and I are away.”

He shrugged, looking over at his team. “Come along, mongrels. Let’s get this done.”

Medb sighed as Lancer disappeared as well. “There goes the fun, right Haku?”

“We’ll see them soon enough,” Hakuno pointed out.

“We will. In the meantime, you have some of your favorite servants,” Ozymandias pointed out. Those golden eyes gleamed. “I’m quite honored that you felt the need to keep me close.”

“You are strong. I’ve seen your light at work.” Hakuno grinned at him. “I chose you all because you’re less likely to get into trouble together.”

Medb sighed. “You just wanted me close. I understand. I’m not normally one to come on strong, but since you’re so insistent, I cannot say I dislike your forwardness. It’s quite bold of you. Naturally, I’m not so easy to get that I will simply follow any master, but… you interest me, I guess. You have that natural Cu gathering sense. And that mana flow…” Those eyes of hers gleamed in the same way as when she looked at Cu Caster and Lancer. “Delicious.”

Right…

Honestly, with her claiming Cu Alter as hers, she had felt the need to keep the woman close. Enkidu could help her keep the woman from doing something that would cause them all trouble. Ozymandias was loyal as well. He and Waver would help.

“Ramses. Enki. Waver.” Hakuno looked over at the trio, since Archer took the same way as Caster, why don’t we press forward through the broken wall?”

“That’s fine, my little wife.” Ozy turned, laughing as he headed forward. “Follow me, my subjects! We shall see the enemy in little time and send them to Anubis!”

Medb squeaked as the pharaoh grabbed her arm, pulling her forward.

“Release me at once!”

Waver sighed, following after them quietly.

Hakuno could only put her hand into Enkidu’s, looking closely at the wall as they passed through. Faint green lines ran over the rubble, like it was computer animated rather than a real wall and part of the place.

There was little doubt in her mind at this point.

She knew who they dealing with.

Which meant all of them were in danger.

The person behind all of this wouldn’t simply go down with a simple fight. They wouldn’t allow them to go too far without doing something. Truly, they were going to be in for one hell of a horrible fight when they reached this being.

She would taunt them at some point soon, because she always needed to taunt.

She would stalk them and test their bonds with one another.

Ishtar would be gone by tomorrow night.

Some of the others, if they did not follow her as they had said they would, would end up gone as well.

Her hand tightened around Enkidu’s as she remembered the woman demanding that she break her contract with Gilgamesh.

She could recall lying in the nothingness of wherever Gil had found her, simply drifting in that realm of nothingness and pain.

BB was not to be taken lightly.

Enkidu leaned in close, pressing their lips to her hands.

“You’re scared,” he murmured.

“No matter what happens,” Hakuno whispered. “No matter what anyone tells you, please don’t leave me, Enkidu.”

“Master,” Enkidu’s smile illuminated the dark hallways, warming her heart. “I said the same thing to your younger self that I’ll say now: I love you. I will never leave your side. Even if I must go to the limits of my ability. Even if I must become a grail for you again. I will do whatever it takes to protect and care for you.”

The rain pounded outside as Hakuno looked towards Waver. She could see the man staring back at her, nodding at her to hurry up.

“If I have you and Gilgamesh, I’ll be fine.”

“Of course,” Enkidu replied.

Her gut was protesting at the very idea though. If there was something coming, then she needed to be more prepared. She needed to do more. These servants she had... each and every one of them would be vital for survival. BB could turn people against one another. She could create mazes and tricks that would get the average student and servant. There was no kindness in her body. She didn't know how to stop being the terror that she was.

Hakuno knew this for a fact.

They needed to all be on the same page.

With that in mind, she hurried forward with Enkidu at her side and wrapped a hand around Waver’s. At the man's attention, she gave him a smile. “Let’s find Iskander and Alexander.”

“My kings are no doubt causing trouble,” Waver replied, snorting. “I’ve never had a moment with them that wasn’t filled with chaos.”

Chapter Text

Clearly, Waver hadn’t spent enough time with the two Gilgamesh.

Archer alone had enough talent to cause trouble and chaos wherever he pleased. He could be a royal pain like that, raising hellfire where things were calm.

“How do you know Iskander?”

Waver looked down at her, shrugging. “He was my servant at one time. It was long ago. I don’t wish to talk about it.”

“Do all casters have servants at one time?” Enkidu asked, moving to her side.

“I have heard from Gilgamesh Caster that he had servants at one time,” Waver replied. “I am not sure about some of the others. I don’t involve myself in them. The casters of this place are nothing more than gossiping, conniving liars… But that is my opinion. You may think of them what you wish.”

“Why do you think they’re that way?”

“They do not feel enough appreciation for the work they put in. Other than myself and Merlin, there is little use being done with them. Unless Gudako gets a whim, they are here. However, that does not excuse the experiments that they perform on others. I have seen their actions against Sparticus and some of the other servants. Medea went too far in her actions against Altera. There was no chance for her to survive without mana. And then with that mage king-”

“What happened to Altera?”

The words came out before Waver could continue. Those tired eyes looked over at her. “…What interest do you have in knowing?”

“Altera was my servant at one time. It was long ago. I don’t wish to talk about it.” Enkidu snickered a little at her side as she mimicked Waver’s response.

“Medea and the Mage King were experimenting with how long servants can be without a master. Altera’s unusual mana signature was interesting to them. They had estimated that she would either recognize that her mana was drained or last a good week. She lasted an hour without a master and went back to the grail.”

“When was this?”

“About a week before you arrived. Gudako had hoped to find her in the singularity you were found in. It’s the only reason she was really paying full attention to the mana signatures at the time.”

So it hadn’t been a rescue.

That didn’t really matter. It was nothing more than a romantic thought that had been creeping into her mind for some reason. Somehow, she had imagined that Archer had figured out himself that she would be there and had gone looking for her. Instead he had simply experienced great luck in finding her… or rather, she had experienced great luck in being found during an adventure.

“If it consoles you any, your king wasn’t involved in Altera’s disappearance. That was more Medea’s work than his. He was occupied with trying to poke holes into Sparticus to see how big he would get and still be able to fit through doors. He tends to get a one track mind with experiments.”

“It’s fine. I’m not that upset. It happened and it’s done. Altera can be summoned again.” Gudako could summon her back to Chaldea. There wasn’t a real issue. It was like Cu Chulainn had said, death was just a temporary thing for servants.

But damn, didn’t that sound cold.

Waver didn’t say anything, looking around at the hallways around them. “I’ve never seen the walls pulsate with energy like this before.”

“It’s BB.” Hakuno motioned ahead of them. “I don’t know what her plan is, but she’s good at using power from the Moon Cell to build these kinds of things. She did it in the far side of the Moon Cell using computer programs and mana. She probably has servants that are working under her as well.”

“Is she a mage?”

“No, a servant from what Cu Chulainn Berserker told me.”

Medb’s head seemed to twist a little at the sound of the man’s name. Enkidu’s grip on her tightening a little at the reminder of the beast.

Waver nodded. “Shame. It would have been nice to use practical human methods combined with magecraft to create things like this. I would have enjoyed the discourse. Something like this is so simple and complex at the same time.”

“Do you know how to make the labyrinth disappear?”

Waver shook his head. “I know nothing about codes and computers. They’re a mystery I have no intention of solving. Mages don’t do technology.”

Of course not, that would be too easy.

She sighed, looking ahead of them again. Ozymandias was being quiet. For all his filibuster about her being his wife and being his, he had become very uninvolved.

“He had a nightmare.”

“Huh?”

Waver motioned ahead of them to Ozymandias’ lead. “He had a nightmare or something. I know that expression from my- I mean, from Iskander. Riders all tend to share the same concerns and expressions at times. I’ve spent a lot of time with the two that I have.”

She nodded, looking up to Enkidu. “We need our team focused.”

“Would you like me to speak to him?” The being asked.

“I would like to ask some questions about your abilities, clay being.” Waver spoke up. “If you don’t mind. I heard about you long ago from Archer.”

“I’ll go talk to Ozymandias,” Hakuno told them, patting their shoulder and moving around Medb. She tossed the woman a small smile before moving to the front of the party. Ramses eyes drifted to her.

“Is there a problem, Hakuno?”

“You got quiet on me, Ramses. Is something wrong?”

“Did you miss my talking to you?” One of his arms slung over her shoulders, pulling her under his cloak and close to his hotter than hell person. She could already feel that sunlight warming-like heat he gave off in droves washing over her.

Nefertari must have enjoyed being warm at all times. It was almost smothering in how much warmth and heat came her way.

“It’s not a problem for you to remain at my side. Just remember to remain behind me when the fighting begins. I will protect you better than I have thus far.”

“I know you will, but I can fight as well.”

“Of course, but you need to be protected as well.”

“Here I thought you’d be talking with Waver and myself instead of remaining at the front of the team.” Hakuno wrapped her arm around the man’s waist a little, moving a little closer. The smirk she earned from the king had warning bells going off in her mind. He was enjoying this a little too much.

Damn.

“It’s true. Normally, I would be about providing you conversation topics and adoration that would only be acceptable for someone of mine,” he murmured, leaning in closer to her. “However, we are in enemy territory and I know how much losing our firstborn hurt you. I know that, above the cute smiles and sweet laughter I enjoy hearing from your lips, seeing you at all is more important to me than any of that. That is why I am fine with the clay’s protection of you and your remaining close to the support of our team. Allow Medb and I to fight for this team. We have your mana lovingly running through our veins. We will kill all those who oppose us.”

“You lost your firstborn?”

Ozy’s eyes dimmed a little, lips pressing to her forehead. “Never again will we lose anything. Please go back to the caster and clay one, my little Hathor reincarnate.”

Hakuno moved a little closer to him though, shaking her head. “Just don’t let BB persuade you of anything if we run into her, Ramses. Whatever she promises-“

“She cannot promise me anything I don’t already have,” he murmured, releasing her to go back towards the others. Those golden eyes drifted to Medb.

“Is there a problem, Sunshine King?” Medb moved forward a little, smiling that enigmatic smile of hers.

“I sense your friend close, Rider.”

“Hmm?”

“Your dark Cu.”

Enkidu was leaping forward at the news. Their eyes drifting ahead of them. Hakuno could already see antlers forming on the being’s head. Power was oozing out of them as Medb squealed excitedly.

“I’m so glad! I missed him. Cu!” Medb called out through the hall, earning the visual of a tail curling along the wall from where the hall jutted off into another hall.

Enkidu moved to all fours, preparing to leap. There were no hands and feet now for the being, only claws and the promise of death.

“Medb, what are you doing on that team,” Cu Berserker called over, remaining mostly out of view.

“I’m always a sucker for power players, you know me.” Medb moved forward, fluffing up her hair a little as she stalked ahead of their team. Waver held Enkidu back with a hand, murmuring quietly as Medb went on. “You know how we are actually. Hakuno’s got good ideas. Men, beds, mana beyond imagination. I love a girl that knows her interests and doesn’t waste her time. No claiming mine, she just gives me what I want and leaves.”

“I suppose this is where I end up killing you then.” The hooded dark Cu Chulainn came around the corner, his lance dragging along the floors of the hallway. “I cannot say that I’m surprised, you’ve always seemed like someone I would end up killing in the end. Your obsessive mind is-“

The whip that lashed out hit just a fraction from his face.

Medb had hardly moved. Her smile never faltering.

“See, there’s this problem that I have with dogs lately and I’m learning.” She shrugged. “That’s what it means to be royalty, after all. Learn, adapt; I know how to do it all. I’m very flexible, as you know.” Those eyes just gleamed from Hakuno’s point of view. “I have this problem with dogs though. They’re not being obedient enough for my taste. I suppose I’ll have to use all of the options I have been given to put my dog in its place.”

Berserker just laughed before Enkidu was gone.

Medb didn’t even hesitate, leaping onto Enkidu and another whip coming into fruition in her hands. She shouted at Enkidu, orders, most likely, but there was no making sense of the gibberish. The two were off, slamming into the Berserker and beginning to fight. The lance spun around, but Medb’s whip blocked it. Enkidu’s claws tore at the beast, a greater beast than the little one could ever be.

Waver was chanting from her side, making her go to join him in giving power when-

Ozymandias wasn’t attacking.

The sun king was looking into another hallway, eyes narrowing.

Something was coming from that hall. Barely audible from the fighting sounds ahead of them. The cries of Berserker were covering the…

Baby sounds.

There was a bundle in the hallway, its little human fists moving in the air a little as it cried out.

Psychological warfare.

Hakuno reached out before Ozymandias could do anything, wrapping her arms around him tightly.

“Hakuno,” Ozy’s gaze flickered down to her.

“It’s not-“

“I’m aware. It makes me wonder how long they’ve been listening.” Those golden eyes drifted along the hallway, looking for something else to the trap. Wires or runes or something.

Hakuno leaned in closer to the man. “Hit the walls.”

“The walls?”

“I don’t want to hit the baby, but maybe they’re creating walls somewhere.”

Those golden eyes softened a little more, face pressing against hers on his shoulder. His staff waved, the rays of light blinding the hall, furthering bothering Cu Berserker as it struck forward.

“FUCK!”

A classic BB attack, but it wasn’t BB that came out.

The being that came out wasn’t the same. The world began to rot away where her hands landed. Something was dripping from her hands, melting away the world around her.

The BB lookalike smiled at her, gaze narrowing.

“What unseemly things you are. BB was correct in me destroying you… Although, I think she had this backwards. The pretty servants can be allowed to live. It’s you that needs to die, little master.”

Ozymandias didn’t even respond back to her, opting for light.

Great light that blinded the room. Hakuno’s only saving grace was the cloak part that Ramses tossed over her eyes. She could still feel a sting from the light, her eyes blinking repeatedly as she tried to save her sight a little.

The screech that came from before them was too great.

Enkidu’s resounding sound made her turn away, blinking and pulling off the cloak.

They had blinded part of their own time. They couldn’t do a two front war like this. They needed to fight in the same direction.

Fuck.

The BB lookalike was rushing forward, meeting Ozymandias’ staff as the rider rushed to meet her. There wasn’t hesitation in the way he took action, but the other was strong. The liquid on her hands was melting the cane in Ozy’s hand. Mana was a poor repair method for the thing.

There was something wrong with this servant.

They hadn’t even seen Bathory either.

Hakuno aimed her arm towards the lookalike BB, preparing a shot. She needed an opening. Just one moment and a good amount of mana. She would go for the head, severing it from her shoulders. That was what Gil had said he had done to BB. She’d do it for this monster.

“CHARIOT OF LOVE!”

Power fluxed within her as she heard carriage wheels running through the hall. She leaped out of the way at the last second, seeing Medb dragging Cu Berserker’s body into her chariot.

“HAKUNO!”

Something slammed against her, smashing her against the walls. Pain lanced through her shoulder as she smelled burning skin. Something was pouring down her body.

“I’m sadistic to limits I don’t even understand,” the BB lookalike purred. “I don’t care how much my pathetic other self loves you and wishes to have you all to herself. You are too ugly to live, Hakuno Kishinami.”

Enkidu’s arms came into view, slamming the being’s body away from her. She could see the claws mold back into place. Her body was pressed against their chest, slowly being welcomed amongst the clay. It covered her arm, making her immobile.

She couldn’t see around the being’s body, couldn’t move. There was air only through a small pocket of space.

Screeches and roars could be heard.

They moved in a variety of directions, but she couldn’t see them. She couldn’t do anything in this state. Her face pressed against the malleable clay nearby, eyes closing.

Mana was all she could give.

Her shoulder was in agony. Her servants were in various states of unknown. They could be wounded. They could be dying. There was only Enkidu that she knew for sure was breathing and putting up the fight. She could feel trickles of energy being tossed the being’s way. She joined in, giving what she could. All of the mana she would have wasted on a shot towards this sadistic BB version, she gave to Enkidu.

Flowers bloomed over the area. Dozens, no- thousands of blooms. The petals drifted through the air. The smell filled the world around them. Enkidu deserved something good and wonderful. They deserved to have a master that could fight with them. She wanted to be someone that could be just as strong as them and Gilgamesh. She wanted to be powerful.

She had all this magic. She could do one more magic spell.

The blossoms crackled.

The mage in front of her flailed as the blooms came at them. They pushed and wiped at the flowers, but there were too many. All of them held that electric charge that she had seen the Smoking Man do before. All of them were set to harm whoever they touched.

The beautiful blooms that had made Gilgamesh smile and had made Enkidu love her all that much more crackled with the promise of death.

The screams that reached out into the night reached a peak as the blooms drifted over the land. The trees caught fire, the grass carried the flames from the trees across to more of the nature around them.

The mental picture came from nowhere. She wasn’t sure why. She wasn’t going to question why.

Merlin had made flowers before. She had the mana to spare.

Closing her eyes, she tried to imagine the hallway. She tried to imagine the servants and the enemies that littered the hall. She could picture the blooms like in those in her mind’s eye. Beautiful white flowers, blooming with white petals and traces of pink and purple within the depths of those blooms. She could smell their sweet fragrance in the air, wafting down the halls.

She could picture the flower blooms and petals drifting through the air, like the air was more like water, pushing them along. She could picture them getting caught on the enemies.

And then there was fire.

Great fire, burning and casting away the darkness. She could see it billowing out from the depths of the flowers, expanding and building as more oxygen hit the fire.

She could see the walls going up in flames with how powerful the flames were. They would be strong enough to stop the BB lookalike. She’d pour as much mana as possible into that.

But she couldn’t see, so she needed to pour power into the attack and pray. She needed to pray it would be enough to send them back. Make them suffer for daring what they had doen.

There was no reason for them to exist to cause the servants pain like that.

Ozymandias hadn’t deserved to suffer like that. He didn’t need to see an infant crying out for someone and think of his own child. He didn’t deserve to have someone try to appeal to what could have been in his human life.

Waver didn’t deserve to have to be away from his servants, wondering if they were alright. He didn’t deserve to turn the corners in the halls, wondering when they would run into the dead bodies of his servants.

Medb didn’t deserve to have to fight what she loved. She didn’t deserve to have to hear that they wanted her to die.

Enkidu and herself didn’t deserve to have to split apart from Gilgamesh just to find out what was wrong with this fucking place.

Let it all burn down, her mana seemed to purr. Let it burn apart until only the truth remained.

“Come out, Master!” the BB lookalike cried out. She could hear the scream through all the clay around her body. “FIGHT ME LIKE A TRUE MASTER!”

The body around her vibrated, she could sense their body borrowing a bit of mana to change their features. The words reverberated around her.

“My little magician has no need to fight that which is not meant to be alive.”

The laughter that came from the lookalike was loud, but she could feel Enkidu’s body giving chase for a second. Something must have stopped them. The growl that came from all around her was strong.

“Hakuno!”

Ozy’s voice could be heard.

“Easy, clay,” Waver called to the being. “Hakuno’s wounded, isn’t she? We need to regroup. We need to double back for the others.”

“Yeah, let her go. We got the good bad guy anyway.” Medb’s voice was pleased. “Cu will tell us where the others are. I’ll persuade him!”

Enkidu wasn’t letting her go though. She tried to shift, but pain came from her shoulder.

They weren’t changing back for her.

Her shoulder must have been bad. Moving would agitate it. She had to remain still.

“Hakuno,” Enkidu’s voice breathed so softly.

“Thank you, Enki…”

She could feel their body moving again. Although trapped in the darkness, unable to move, she let the knowledge she knew deep down calm her anxieties.

This was Enkidu.

The king’s only friend, her first servant, the being who loved her; they would never let her die. They would never let her bleed out and be in pain.

This was for her.

She pressed her lips gently to their clay body, unable to help it.

There was no doubt why Gilgamesh loved Enkidu and would refuse any other person for a friendship. There wasn’t a friendship in the world that could compare to this one’s friendship and loyalty. No one would be this selfless, this beautiful as a personality.

Some of the clay molded near her face, stroking her cheek softly as the being moved through the halls. She could hear the three servants outside Enkidu’s body talking to them, trying to ease them into returning to their regular form. Something was sliding across the floors as they walked, probably Cu Berserker’s body, if she had to hazard a guess.

Her eyes were growing heavy.

Hakuno let fatigue take her.

Chapter Text

Hakuno really needed to reevaluate this idea of hers.

Watching lancer and caster talking to one another while he and Nitocris walked behind them was becoming a bore. The idea that they would simply meander through the area and find the others had been promising, but for all of five minutes. Now there were other things on his mind.

Namely his master.

The memories from before were fascinating, interesting. He had come across his master long before she was his, rescuing her from the Mages Association when they were hunting for her in the dark. He had hidden her away from Kirei, thinking her oddly too much like his friend.

Which made sense now, she had been contracted to them, no doubt.

She’d been so little though! She had been filled with so much mana. What the hell had happened to change that, he wondered. The woman had been like an energy shot when he had kept her safe within his home.

Gods, but the flower blooms.

There was no doubt she was related to that flower mage. Those blooms alone were a heavy indication of her lineage. Had he known then what he had known now, he wouldn’t have allowed a second to pass without his friend secured and his home’s security raised. The mages would have been tossed into a new direction. He would have had Kirei become nothing more than a tool for keeping them at bay.

Instead he had come up with a pathetic plan to have the girl hide away from him.

Which clearly had not been well thought out. Hakuno was too young to know how to hide. His friend had been too worried about her to think rationally. In the end, Enkidu had gotten carried away and the plan had been destroyed.

Hell, the card he had given her had been dropped in the lobby of the condominium. The staff had returned it shortly after it was found.

“King Gilgamesh,” Nitocris frowned at his side, drawing his attention away from his thoughts. “…I sense something.”

“You too, huh?” Cu Caster looked back at her a moment, trading a worried look with her. “It’s been hitting my senses for a bit. Someone’s using mana.”

“Where?”

The two casters shook their heads, making Cu Lancer sigh.

“Maybe you could use some kind of spell or rune,” Lancer offered.

“We would be notifying them that we know they’re there.” Nitocris shook her head. “That’s more dangerous than it’s worth.”

“It would be helpful to gauge where they’re at though.”

If the building hadn’t been rearranged…

Archer shut his eyes a moment, thinking. These damn mongrels were starting to become annoying with their argument over spells and runes.

The direction this path would have taken them was towards nothing more than a few bedrooms and a lounge area that had been stuffed full of beds and dressers. If he remembered correctly, Mash and Gudako had decided that this area of the building was better off just being for storage. If more servants came, they had things to pull from this area and could bring them elsewhere. However, because of that, this hallway had become useless. Edmond’s bedroom was this direction, but that was it. He, the Count, and Ozymandias had been set on emptier hallways, away from other servants.

Mostly because they were far too bold in their speech.

Altering these hallways wouldn’t serve much purpose and he wasn’t seeing any changes to the terrain. Going any further would serve no purpose. If the enemy was this way, then they were cornered. They would have no doubt heard something from the servant.

“There were only two paths to take from our rooms, wasn’t there?”

The other three paused, looking over at him.

“Yes, King Gilgamesh.” Nitocris leaned against her staff a little, nodding, “the path we took, and that which Gilgamesh Caster took.”

Enkidu and Hakuno had taken the other path, which would have led towards the main facility. Hopefully, the clay being would keep Hakuno from going too far in that direction.

Caster’s path would have been more interesting.

That direction led towards where Dr. Romani had kept his labs and his bedroom. It was an area of Chaldea that Gudako never liked anyone going in. There was still great guilt on her part in regards to the doctor.

Understandable, even admirable, but that was not his concern.

Any enemy would have used that area. It was far better than anything else. No one would have gone in that direction out of respect for the young master of Chaldea.

“We need to follow after Caster.”

“Hmm? That defeats the purpose of splitting up,” Cu Caster argued.

“There’s nothing this direction and Caster has the smallest team.” Gilgamesh looked over at Lancer. “You should run ahead, let Caster know we’re on our way.”

Lancer frowned. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking BB is here and that she’s taking up Romani’s area. A grand caster like that would have things left behind that would assist her in gaining more power. Even Da Vinci left things there that she doesn’t want to work on any further without the doctor, even if they could help build up power for the servants.”

Lancer was already running by the time he finished that, sprinting in that odd manner of his as both casters cursed.

“You think this BB has gotten far?”

“Can you sense them yet,” Archer countered towards Cu Caster.

“It’s not that we can’t sense them,” Nitocris pointed out. “It’s that we can’t sense anything but them. Even now, it feels like they’re just all around us. The walls themselves feel alive.”

This was BB for sure then. There was no doubt.

Which meant the grail had taken her in, welcomed her to the throne of heroes and Gudako had most likely summoned her. Something had occurred to make it possible for her to be here.

It also meant Hakuno was in danger and would need to be kept close. The woman had been highly interested in Hakuno before and she wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of this.

That in mind, Gilgamesh motioned the other two to follow and began to trek down the hallway. His armor was coming to fruition, his senses on edge now. The gates were close to being called. His mana was higher than it had been before, fueled by Hakuno’s abilities. She was more open and powerful as a mage than she had been on the Moon Cell. Even at this distance, there was no doubt that he could get whatever he needed and take down anyone in their way.

Something shifted as they passed the hallway. Their little hands reached up, turning the knob and looking over at them.

“Is this funny to you?” Gilgamesh moved in front of the other two, letting the gates open up in front of himself and behind the illusion.

“…Golden.”

To give the woman credit, she had almost managed to create the young Hakuno that was now trapezing through his mind. She had almost managed to mimic her voice.

But his Hakuno’s voice had been melodious from hours with Enkidu. She had been dressed up because he had been unable to help but want to protect someone he sensed was important. Most importantly, her movements had not been so prideful. She had moved as though ready to run and hide.

Still, he found himself holding back as those eyes took more of him in. Those brown eyes were the same shade as his own Hakuno’s. Her hands held onto the hem of her skirts.

“Goldie.”

The blades slammed home a moment later, impaling the child as both casters behind him hissed. Cu Caster ran passed him, trying to reach the child only to watch as the mana slowly broke apart, returning to the same coding that the Moon Cell had been so eager to create around them.

Nitocris smacked him before she saw the coding break, her eyes watching the mana returning to the walls before it was gone.

“The hell was that!?” Cu Caster growled.

“BB has been listening to our conversations,” Gilgamesh told him.

“Goldie? You knew a child that called you Goldie?”

“No, I didn’t,” he answered to Nitocris.

Hakuno had been respectful, worshipful. She had spent the entire time with him not calling him by much of anything. When he had been revealed as Gilgamesh, he had been King Gilgamesh most of the time. She had been careful to say his name with the unerring admiration that she had felt he deserved. Enkidu had been careful build that admiration into her.

She would never have called him Goldie or simply Golden. It would have bothered the small child to no end to even hear of anyone calling him that.

But BB didn’t know that and now she would be confused why he was denying meeting a child who thought of him as that. It meant her illusions to sway him into action against the others would be unsuccessful.

“We need to make it to Caster,” he told the two casters, walking passed the mess of swords without a backwards glance. The two mages hurried to reach him, eyeing the surroundings more carefully. They were now untrusting, a good sign for their group.

There were others that weren’t taking this seriously though.

Caster and Merlin were both in danger of falling for such words and actions. Caster seeing a small Hakuno like that…

They picked up the pace as they found the original hallway, hurrying through towards the direction that Caster had gone. He made the two casters at his side run now, sensing himself what was coming.

There were mana signatures.

They were broad and undeniable. It was like someone had painted the walls in order to cover the work that BB had done.

“It’s about damn time!”

Gilgamesh paused at the sight of the mage lying on the floor. Lancer was leaning over him, trying to get him up the rest of the way.

“There’s something wrong with your clay friend,” Merlin murmured. “Caster went after them. They took out Ishtar. The girl didn’t have a chance.”

Gilgamesh looked ahead, gauging the distance before he looked at them all.

“Nitocris, Cu Caster.” He looked at the duo, “You are my support on this. Lancer will take Merlin back to the hallway from before and wait for Hakuno. She’ll be able to help.”

“Hakuno’s been taken out by-“

“Hakuno is fine,” Gilgamesh told the mage. “BB is good at illusions and she’s been listening.”

“Damn good. Archer killed a mini Hakuno in the other hallway. Just like that,” the caster snapped his fingers before noting his expression. Wisely, the caster simmered down.

“I could stay to help,” Nitocris offered. “It doesn’t feel like Merlin has lost too much energy.”

“Caster is devastated by the illusion,” Merlin warned, ignoring everyone else. He pushed at the lancer, summoning his staff and rubbing at his head. “it messed him-“

“Merlin,” Archer looked over at the mage, frowning a little. “…When did you meet Caster Gilgamesh?”

“You know he was summoned here in Chaldea a while ago. I met him with-“

Lancer cursed loudly as Archer opened the gates, looking around carefully.

“I warned her that you wouldn’t be so easy to fool. She didn’t believe me though.” An obnoxious voice spoke up from nearby as the woman slowly moved into the hallway. “She even had Lancer going there for a minute. He was so worried and concerned. It’s kind of funny.”

“Mongrel,” Archer pulled one of the blades from the disappearing being’s frame, looking over towards Bathory. “I have no time for your games. Where’s my Caster self?”

“He’s entertaining BB right now.” The pink haired lancer spun her staff a little, moving into the hallway more. “Our Merlin wasn’t lying. We’ve taken care of dear old Ishtar and Merlin’s a bit unconscious now. And poor little Gilly, preoccupied with trying to rescue Hakuno from his corrupted friend. She really did enjoy the little one on one that Caster and that clay being had.”

“Oi, you think I’m simply gonna accept you pulling that shit on me?” Lancer moved carefully in front of them, looking over at the others. “Caster, come on.”

“Somehow I figured you’d be askin’ me to help ya.” Cu Caster glanced at the two of them, shrugging a little. “We’ll open a path. Go get the other two idiots before they hurt themselves.”

“Nitocris,” Archer glanced over at her a moment before the two Cu Chulainns were lunging forward. Their old tongues were wagging, no doubt cursing the woman as they overwhelmed her at once. Flames bloomed forth, the speed of that lance barely slow enough for the pink lancer to counter.

She fell back and Archer took the chance.

This was not his fight. She had done nothing to merit his time.

Now the woman she worked for was another story.

He could hear the mage on his tail, the pharaoh trailing in his wake as they rushed through the halls. Once more, they were running, scanning the hallways for mana signatures and finding the path growing faint. His eyes scanned at the fork in the path, thinking about the layout before he took to the right.

Nitocris followed him further.

Deeper and deeper into the madness they went.

How long had Caster been following the illusion? How long had he been believing that it was Enkidu that they had encountered?

Had he said or done something foolish?

They came to the entrance to Romani’s labs and Gilgamesh stopped. The trail went cold here. The doors were closed.

“Nitocris, step back.”

“Allow me, my fellow king.” She held up her staff, closing her eyes a moment before a handful of beings came up from the floor. Their bodies slammed against the door, shoving them open.

Gilgamesh Caster looked back at him from halfway across the room. Clothes and skin torn in places, he was bleeding out, kneeling of all things. There were indications of bruises to come along his person. There was no doubt what had happened.

An Enkidu- no, that was disrespectful to his friend- a false clay being stood near BB, holding a passed out Hakuno in their arms. Their smile broadened at the sight of him.

“Gil.”

“I see we have an infestation on our hands,” Archer called out, stepping into the room with the caster at his side.

“How cruel. You’d call your only friend a pest.” BB narrowed her gaze. “Is that why you are attacked my offering to you? Your second chance to have little Hakuno back.”

Caster looked over at him, eyes widening as Archer found himself laughing.

“That little mongrel? You think I want a child running around my ankles?”

“You attacked Hakuno?” Caster almost hissed the question at him.

“He did, King Gilgamesh. Struck her down after she was calling him by such a sweet nickname.” BB moved closer towards him.

“Silence!”

She paused at the command, no doubt sensing the amount of loathing in that voice. Archer merely waited, watching his other self standing up and looking around them.

He was wise. He would sense the truth in this. There could not be doubles of a human. Hakuno was nothing more than that too. There would be no possibility of creating the young Hakuno that had been badly abused and mistreated. There were no such things as second chances in the eyes of time. Hakuno was a grown woman. Their woman. Any struggles she had held prior would be erased in time with their presence at her side.

Eternity would see that any memories that came from the depths of her mind were once more washed away.

Caster’s axe came into fruition.

His eyes were on the fake clay being.

“Nitocris,” Archer coaxed the pharaoh from her side into turning her attention away from the scene. “Fetch Merlin and get him back to the others. I will handle this here.”

She nodded, obeying without question. Her arms wrapped around the unconscious flower mage nearby.

“Caster,” BB called to his mage self, taking another step forward. “I do not know what has plagued your friend, but I can help. I am a mage, much like yourself. Your archer self has pushed me away time and time again, but I am still here. I still want to help make things right. Let’s help your friend feel better. Let’s make Hakuno safe.”

Archer leaned against the door.

“Nothing?” Caster looked over at him. “You have nothing to say on these claims? She kills your least favorite goddess and stops Enkidu’s running through chaining him and you have nothing to say on the matter?”

“Addressing demons as ghosts only gives them more power.”

The king stared down at his weapon as BB closed the distance a little more. Her hand was reaching for him.

“Do not listen to him, mage king. He has been neglectful to everyone. He hurts that which he touches. He abuses those around him and belittles them every chance he gets. There is no love in him. He is incapable of showing anyone the respect they deserve. You are the real Gilgamesh. You are the real king of Uruk. I can sense that. Cast away the faker and take back your friend and your master. Let me help you-“

His axe moved so fast that the woman didn’t even see it coming. Those eyes of his drifted over to the fake clay being’s as he twisted the blade.

“You deny my other self. My strength personified. You hide within the form of my friend and purr toxic words of hope into my ears. Tell me, mongrel, did you think a true king would believe such heresy?”

The fake being changed, the green hair turning to purple as the body that the Caster had stabbed broke apart. The woman in the being’s arms was vanishing as BB formed behind the table at the other end of the room.

“I truly hate you, Gilgamesh,” she growled.

“Let’s not make this last any longer than necessary.” Archer moved to his other half’s side, still holding the blade from earlier. His gaze flickered to caster.

Proud, wise king Caster.

He’d need to praise himself later for the good thinking.

They were the same in the end.

Even Hakuno knew better than to question such truths.

BB turned, heading for the other door and slamming through it at a breakneck pace. The doors flew shut before the walls were smoothing over them. Within moments, there was nothing else in the room.

Caster lowered his weapon, spitting onto the floor.

“I had believed for a moment-“

“The moment is over. Welcome to hunting our master’s worst enemy.” Archer looked over at him, allowing the blade in his hands to drop back into the Gates of Babylon. “That is BB. She is known for illusions and labyrinths. Although, it doesn’t seem she has enough power to make her labyrinths as well as she could before.”

“That’s true.” Caster looked around, frowning. “She didn’t change the hallways that much at all. The rooms are still the same.”

“We need to regroup. It’s been long enough. Enkidu and Hakuno will be returning to the main meeting point. We need to tell them what we’ve seen.”
“Let’s leave the minor details out.” Caster turned, his tome coming to hand as they walked. His skin was slowly closing where wounds had been present. His clothing was slowly stitching itself back together. “There’s no need to worry Hakuno over such drivel.”

There wasn’t. He owed the mage for trusting him. He’d keep his mouth shut.

“I need to just hold Hakuno when we get back,” Caster muttered. “The woman was deathly accurate with her illusions.”

“You aren’t paying enough attention to our master and friend if you think that.” Archer looked around at the area as they walked, but there was nothing. No traces of anything anymore. “If you were more in tune with them, you would not have strayed from your group. You would have realized what was happening.”

“This plan was flawed to begin with.”

He wouldn’t argue that.

They reached the fork in the hallway and took to the left, back towards where they had come from. Archer glanced over at his double and sighed.

“How did you meet Merlin?”

“In Babylon. He was a pain in my ass for days on end. Wouldn’t leave my damn court.”

So that was how they had met. That had been something he'd been meaning to ask for a while. The two casters had seemed like they had met prior to Chaldea, but he'd never been positive on the circumstances.

“I still don’t care for you being with my master,” Archer told him.

Those eyes glinted a bit, understanding dawning on the man’s face.

“You tested them. Little Hakuno and-“

“There are things that cannot be known except to those who lived it. Details are important, especially right now, mage king.”

“When this is over, I would like for you to come with me back to Uruk.” Caster smirked a little. “I have a feeling my advisors need to be filtered. I have found that there are discrepancies in some reports lately.”

“When this is over, I will come back to Uruk.” Archer smirked. “Our woman said she was in need of a home after all.”

Their walk was halted, a great beast lingering in the hallway as the other servants surrounded it, trying to coax the being into changing back. Blood coated its frame, parts of the clay being’s skin melted here and there.

“I don’t think we’ll need to test this one,” Caster murmured.

Archer nodded.

Enkidu’s original form was unmistakable.

Chapter Text

“’Everything had life to me,’ he heard Enkidu murmur,
‘the sky, the storm, the earth, water, wandering,
the moon and its three children, salt, even my hand had life.
It’s gone. It’s gone.’”
- Enkidu to Gilgamesh, Epic of Gilgamesh


The pain was so great.

That was the first thing she noticed when she awakened in the room. Pain throughout her being. Vicious vengeance against her breathing. The world itself felt like it was fighting against her every breath. It fought against her daring to open her eyes.

And the ceiling had nothing.

There were no signs of life. No warmth from the sun hit this room. No high ceilings or smooth ceilings or canopies were above her. Instead of any of that, there was strange rectangles with holes in them. The same materials as before. Everything felt so cold around her. Her body felt numb wherever the pain was not ravaging her.

Cold and pain.

She closed her eyes again, willing her mana to help.

There was no need to stay in this place. Enkidu needed her. She had to be sure to escape long enough to find…

Who was she supposed to find?

Her mind hurt.

Why was her vision blurring?

A figure moved over her, staring down in a tired manner. She knew that face from somewhere. Where did she know that face from? Who was this person?

“You were asleep for a long time,” the woman told her. There were lines on that face, her lips were so lowered they held the danger of simply slipping to the floor. “Do you know what you did? What you threatened to do with your leaving like you did? Do you think to make a mockery of the name Kishinami? Of me?”

Trying to speak was too difficult. She didn’t bother.

Whoever this woman was, she didn’t seem to be very important.

Maybe she was. She seemed so upset.

No, only Enkidu was important.

“Well? Nothing? After depleting all of our funds like you did? After making us beg the main nobles for finding you? For almost making us admit to having something we were not supposed to have to begin with? Do you know how upset they would have been to find out that we had been holding the remains of the great magician Merlin’s mana circuits all this time?”

Hakuno closed her eyes.

“Hakuno, you open your eyes and speak to me. Do you know how much reparations are needed to smooth over the situation with the other mage families because of you? You’re lucky they all believe you dead.”

She didn’t bother to look; didn’t bother to respond. The woman was rude. She was cruel. Her words felt like the pain running through her body.

“You won’t be using that mana of yours again,” the woman murmured. “If you are thinking you are going to see the sunlight again, think again. Whatever secrets you are holding, the new doctor will find out.”

“Madam Kishinami,” another voice purred. “Please come with us.”

The woman turned.

Mother.

That was who that was. It was her mother.

Hakuno opened her eyes, watching that brown hair flutter around her as she turned away and headed for the door. She could see the door close. She could feel the wind of that closing door hit her, sending her nerve endings into alarm. Shock, unfiltered, unparalleled agony, ran through her body. Her vision swam, turning to white for a moment as she tried to breathe.

It was so hard to breathe in this place.

Why did it hurt to breathe?

Where was Enkidu?

She opened her mouth, opened it to speak, but the words wouldn’t come.

She lifted her head.

Her body was stitched together. Lines ran over her arms and her torso, like she had been opened like some kind of package and looked inside of. Someone had looking into her person. They had looked at what had lay beneath her skin.

Her head moved back, eyes going to the ceiling again.

Her vision was swimming again.

Where was Enkidu?

Where was her friend?

Why did it hurt to even try to speak?

“Hakuno?”

A pair of green eyes looked down at her as she opened her eyes. The hallway was dimmed, illuminated only by the artificial lights along the ceiling. Even they were dimmer, as though running on some backup generator.

“There you are,” Enkidu’s face softened, those eyes drifting over her expression before they looked away. “Gil, she’s awake.”

“It’s about damn time,” Caster’s voice replied first.

“You little fool, making us waste energy on such needless concern.” Archer’s face drifted into view, his eyes narrowed. “Do you realize how much you seem to enjoy sleeping while we are pulling all the work?”

All she could do was close her eyes, sighing. “I must have passed out…”

It was unlike her…

The memory of the strange BB drifted into mind, her eyes snapping open. Her body jolted upright. “The others-“

“Easy, little one.” Ozymandias’ voice came gently from behind her. His arms pulled her back carefully, resting once more against his person. “Rest with me a bit longer.”

What… what was Ozymandias doing behind her?

Enkidu and Gil both leaned back a little, Gilgamesh moving to stand back up and head over to where Caster was working on a makeshift table. The man didn’t seem that overly concerned about the closeness.

“You were wounded bad enough that we had Ozymandias heal you and himself at the same time,” Enkidu explained calmly. “I would have healed you myself, but… I may have lost myself for a moment.”

Hakuno nodded softly, looking up at the pharaoh. “Thank you, Ozymandias.”

The pharaoh simply shifted slightly, leaning back a bit more. “There is no need for such words when you understand my motivations, Hakuno. No matter what comes to attempt to stand between us and how much you change, you are simply my Nefertari.”

“Pharaoh,” Enkidu warned, their tone low.

She could feel Ozymandias lightly running a hand over her shoulder. “How does it feel, my kitten? Your shoulder needed to be grafted together from magic from Merlin and healing from myself.”

Moving it felt odd, like her arm had fallen asleep. Still, there was no doubt she could move it. Her fingers and arm curled and uncurled when she tried to move them. She rolled her shoulder, wincing at the ripple of pain that ran through her arm and chest.

“I think it might need some more time to heal.”

The pharaoh pressed his lips lightly to the shoulder, more of that odd feeling running through her from before when he had healed her. She could feel the pain ebb away, but her shoulder still felt asleep.

“What happened to Medb and the others?” Looking around, she couldn’t see too much. Some blankets and things had been set out. Things from the Gates of Babylon, if the markings and colors were any indication.

“The fluffy coated queen has taken the later shift in watching the hallway to the left. The caster hound is going to take the right at that time,” Ozymandias explained, motioning towards an area behind her. “They are both resting. Merlin and Waver are looking over our captured Berserker while Lancer and our other pharaoh are watching the hallways.”

Interesting…

But- “Where’s Ishtar?”

Enkidu shook their head. “She’s gone, Hakuno. Caster and Merlin lost her.”

Ishtar was gone…

The clay being hadn’t been fond of her, but still. She had seemed so much like Rin. It would have been nice to have been able to have some kind of conversation with her. Maybe just a moment to simply listen to what she had to say about life in Uruk and what it was like being a goddess for a group of people that lived in a world that had been as strange and heated as Uruk. Living there with Lancer had been a challenge in and of itself. Being a goddess to the people that had roamed throughout that city and having to be a goddess to someone like Gilgamesh, without him gaining respect for her, must have been difficult.

“Hakuno,” Enkidu leaned in closer. “Do you remember everything that happened? Do you remember who we all are?”

“Hmm?” She frowned at them. “Of course I do. Why would I forget about you, Enkidu?”

The being simply sighed, smiling a little as they shook their head. “So long as you remember all of us, then it’s nothing, Hakuno.”

It wasn’t simply nothing though.

She knew better than that. Her arms reached out weakly, pulling the being close as the two kings spoke quietly to one another at the table nearby. Her head rested against theirs, hugging them to her person as best she could. It was a challenge in and of itself, since her shoulder still throbbed. She could feel Ozymandias move to help the being lay against her, keeping them safely away from her shoulder.

“You and your clay,” he scoffed softly, almost inaudibly.

“Enkidu…” Hakuno leaned against them a little more. “I dreamed about being in a hospital.”

Those green eyes flickered up to her gaze, their body tensing.

“I was in a lot of pain,” she murmured. “I couldn’t really do anything, but my mind just kept running over the same question. Over and over, all I could think of was where were you. I just really wanted to know if you were okay.”

Their lips pressed against her hand, their body nuzzling against hers a little more.

Those eyes were simply glinting in the low light.

“I told you there was nothing worth remembering,” Enkidu murmured.

“I have you to remember,” Hakuno replied. “I want to remember for you alone. If it all comes slowly in dreams, then I don’t mind at all. I’ll wake up to you over and over until I have all of my memory back.”

The being held her hand to their chest, their lips turning upwards a little as they simply rested against her person. No words came from them, no attempts to dissuade her or simply try to welcome the compliment. Rather than that, they seemed to simply want to melt away within the warmth of her words.

Hakuno glanced up towards the pharaoh while the clay being simply drowned themselves in the meaning of her words. The brunet’s eyes were closed, their head tilted forward as their breathing came evenly. Lost to the world, the pharaoh no doubt dreamed of far off oases and lost loves.

Her eyes turned towards the two kings, noting the frown on Caster’s face as Archer spoke to him quietly. Their words seemed heated, if the gestures were to mean anything. Archer’s motions at the paper were met with hand waves and head shakes. The man’s brow seemed to furrow more with each passing minute, finally bringing forth a chair from the Gates so he could sit as well.

“You should rest more,” Enkidu told her.

“I don’t think I want to right now,” Hakuno told them, motioning towards the kings with a light nod. “What are Gilgamesh Caster and Archer doing?”

“They have been arguing about the Labyrinth and how to proceed.” Enkidu intertwined their fingers, shifting a little. “Caster thinks that we should find a way to force Berserker into working with us and pull information from him before proceeding. Archer thinks we should send a couple servants out from time to time to investigate the area and should proceed in directions that get us to supplies and other useful areas.”

“What side are you on?”

“Archer’s. I want to kill Berserker, not become his ally.” Enkidu smiled so easily, as though the admission was not meaning the death of another.

“I think Caster may have a point. Berserker has been working close. We need to learn more about that BB we saw before.” How had she melted things the way she had? Were they in more danger than expected? She wanted to know more about how Ishtar had vanished.

“You want to talk to them, don’t you?”

Hakuno nodded.

There was no helping it. The two were going to argue and be at a standstill until someone intervened. She was the master of these characters. She might as well take charge a little bit for the time being. She could prove herself just a little more for now.

“Hakuno, here.” Enkidu moved slowly, climbing to their feet a moment before she felt their hands and arms underneath her person.

She shifted slightly and felt them stop.

“Put your good shoulder’s arm around my shoulders and I’ll lift you. I’ll have Gil bring forth some fabric for putting your arm in a sling.”

“Good idea.” She followed their instruction, wincing only slightly as she was pulled into their arms and the pharaoh was covered in a blanket from nearby. They moved slowly across the hall, to the windowed side where the two kings were talking.

Their words halted, both sets of eyes on the two of them.

“She needs rest, Enkidu,” Caster growled.

“Gil, Hakuno needs a sling,” Enkidu replied simply.

Archer was already moving to pull something out of the gates, motioning the being to put her in the seat he had just been in. Carefully, Hakuno found herself being treated, Archer’s face close to her own. Up close, there were faint traces of darkness beneath his eyes. Those eyes were slightly watery from the looks of it.

“When was the last time you slept?” Hakuno asked him quietly.

Those red eyes looked over at her, surprisingly blank. “Servants don’t require rest, Hakuno.”

He looked like he did though. Both the kings did, now that she was looking at them. She glanced towards the table, noting the map that was there.

There had been a map of this place?

“We’re planning a way of proceeding,” Caster explained, turning the table and the map around slightly. “We’re currently right here.” He motioned at a point on the map. “Our enemies were here,” he pointed at another hallway. It seemed like the spot where she and her group had encountered the strange BB. “And here,” he motioned at another spot. “BB was fleeing in this direction from this room so we’ll need to head in that direction.”

“It couldn’t have been BB.”

“I thought that as well, Mongrel, but there’s no mistake. She’s pulling her tricks with building a labyrinth… lazily, but we both know her powers will only increase with more time.” Archer’s gaze narrowed on Caster. “That is why we need to move forward.”

“Moving forward is a fool’s errand.” Caster motioned at the map. “Berserker most likely knows where BB is setting up her base of command. Working with him, we can-“

“The insect cares nothing about having a single place to remain. Her power lies in her ability to adapt and change. This place will change and this map will be useless if we simply wait for Berserker to awaken. There’s no assurances that he will awaken soon either. Medb did a number on him.”

“Waiting-“

“You both need to rest,” Hakuno pointed out. “How long have I been asleep?”

“A day? Two…” Caster looked at Archer, earning a nod.

Two days?

No wonder Enkidu had been worried. Hakuno glanced the being’s way and frowned more. “Have these two slept in that time?”

The being shook their head.

“We don’t require sleep,” Caster insisted.

“Go rest with Ozymandias,” Hakuno told them. “Let Enkidu and I look at the map for a while.”

The two men shook their heads, Caster’s arms reaching out to tug her chair closer to himself and the table. “We can rest together once we’re done planning,” he countered.

“Fine. I agree with you about Berserker,” Hakuno told him.

Archer tsked.

“I agree with you about the labyrinth,” Hakuno added. “We can’t wait to do something, but killing Berserker just makes things more difficult. We can drag Berserker with us for now and, when he wakes up, we can learn more details.”

“We should just kill him,” Enkidu argued.

Archer motioned at the being, nodding.

“He may have been being used,” Hakuno pointed out.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” Enkidu pointed out. “He went after you before too. Whatever he was thinking doesn’t matter. He enjoyed going after you and he should be taken out before he has the chance to gain support.”

Spoken like a war fighting ancient.

No doubt that kind of mentality had helped the clay being and Gilgamesh during their time in Uruk. It wouldn’t help now, but she could see how that had been valuable advice before.

Caster leaned in, pressing his lips lightly to her cheek. “I am glad you see reason. These two have been insisting on their plan for the entire time you were unconscious.”

“Hakuno,” Archer’s voice left no doubt he was unhappy with this.

“Caster, please…” Hakuno looked up at him a little. “Maybe you and Enkidu could rest a little more? I think I want some time to talk to Archer.”

The mage king hesitated a moment before nodding.

“It’s fine,” he told her, standing up. “Talk sense into my other self. He’s rational enough to see through the illusions and games that this woman has managed to put up, but his plan for our proceeding will end with us being in more risk than is wise.”
Enkidu didn’t bother to say anything, their arms hugging her once more before the being pulled the caster towards the cushions where Ozymandias was blissfully passed out.

Hakuno turned her gaze to Archer.

“You know my plan is rational.”

“It is.”

“Then I don’t see why we are dancing around this plan. Allow me to remove the cretin from our camp and let’s carry on once the others awaken.”

Hakuno looked down at the map again, her eyes tracing over the room labels. She could trace the halls that would take her to the rayshift rooms. Four total, from the looks of it. One labeled training, one labeled treasure gathering rayshift room, one more was labeled simply ember gathering. The final: Singularity rayshift.

Another set of hallways looked to head towards the dining hall. It’s next door rooms were simply the kitchens and-

“Archer.”

“Hmm?”

“This room is wrong.”

“What?” Archer leaned over her, looking down and shaking his head. “No, that’s a storage closet. It’s been that way forever. No one goes in there.”

“No, that room is far bigger than that. Look at that empty space in the blueprints. I’ve been in that room. There’s a whole bunch of capsules and monitors in there. It’s like the hospital I was in before.” Except worse, she thought grimly. At least she had been able to have a proper bed of sorts in her room. This room had felt like an experimental lab more than anything.

Archer frowned. “Do you see anything else wrong?”

“Not that I know of…”

But she didn’t know this place well enough to be able to make any decisions or assumptions about what was right and what was wrong.

“Do you think Gudako and the others could be there?”

“If anyone is, then maybe. Berserker couldn’t sense me or anything when I was in there. I hid from him in one of the capsules before I was rayshifted to Babylon.”

Archer’s arms wrapped around her slightly, lifting her up so he could sit beneath her. She leaned back against his chest as he settled in, resting her head to his chest. “Did you warn them about the Moon Cell?”

“I said enough.”

So, no.

Archer traced along the map. “Gudako’s room is located on the other end of the facility. If she isn’t in your mystery pod room, then she could be there. She had a tendency of being able to block mana from being felt so she could have servants in her rooms.”

“Why?”

“Why else?” Gilgamesh shrugged, “Gudako is a master, a strong one in some respects. She kept her servants fully supported.”

Ah, that made sense.

“We’ll have to head that way with the group.”

The king nodded.

The silence that ensued had her looking up at him. He had the same expression as before. Something was there, wanting to be said and being held back.

“What is it?”

“Did you dream about your past again?”

“Did you see it?”

He simply waited.

“I saw some things.”

“A mongrel opened you,” the king stated, his hands running over her arms. “Although it was not this body you have now, seeing those markings bothers me. What is it with you and wasting my energies with such plaguing emotions such as these? I cannot kill those who are already dead.”

“I’m not asking you to.”

Her eyes drifted up to his, her continuing argument dying at the sight of those bags under his eyes. The man needed to rest…

Unless-

“You’re not sleeping because of the dreams.”

“I dreamed of Enkidu standing with his robes covered in your parents’ blood while you were out. You had that dream once more.”

So it had been her parents’ blood.

Somehow, she wasn’t bothered by that fact. Perhaps it was the poor treatment she had sensed from her mother in that last dream.

“Hakuno.”

The king leaned in close, his face pressing to hers lightly. “I cannot change what has happened, but you are mine and I have claimed you as such. Once this is over, we will return to Uruk and I will show you how life can be without this looming insect that strives to come between us.”

Hakuno nodded.

“No arguments?”

“I want to be where the warmth is,” she murmured, leaning against him. “I think I agree with Enkidu. Lifeless places like this are no place to live. I miss the Uruk sun and the sound of the Euphrates.”

The lips that pressed against her own were immediate, warm and promising.

As was expected of the king of Uruk.

Chapter Text

The king didn’t kiss her for more than a moment though.

Once again, their attention was focused in on the mapping of Chaldea. Hakuno listened to him list the directions, writing in the names of the servants who had owned the rooms. There were countless gyms to look at, a pool area that would be big enough for part of what could be the start of a Moon Cell if she were to recreate it.

“But that would require power.”

“Could mages be that source?”

Gilgamesh looked down at her, frowning. “Why do you ask?”

“If we can’t find Gudako and she’s no longer supporting her own servants, it would make sense that maybe her energy is being used for something else.” She didn’t want to mention the deal when Charlemagne had once used Gilgamesh for a battery to fuel his work. Memories like that could fade into the nothingness of the past.

“If that’s the case, she could be using the servants as well. It would explain going after Caster and Merlin.”

It explained what the woman had been doing with her in that singularity. She had decided to use her, but her mana hadn’t been like it was now.

The man next to her seemed to be sensing the same end. Those red eyes flickered to her, taking in her expression before her hand was back in his, her body pulled into his arms. She leaned back against him, earning a warning squeeze and ignoring it.

She kissed his chin.

“You’re not helping my concentration.”

“And here I thought you’d appreciate me appreciating you.”

He grunted, giving a soft yawn before he was focused back in on the map.

Places to begin building a Moon Cell.

She still wanted to check the room she had found next to the dining hall. It would provide the opportunity to get food as well. They needed to be fed. They needed water too. All this fighting and running around was going to build appetites. At least, for her, she was getting hungry.

Servants didn’t necessarily need to eat, but there was something nice about being able to eat.

“We need to check Spartacus’ room too,” Archer pointed out, pressing his face to her neck as he looked at the map. “Your mystery room, the pool area, Spartacus and Ivan’s rooms, the recreational room, and the dining hall.” His lips pressed softly to her skin.

“Do you need to rest?”

“I will get some coffee when we’re in the dining hall,” Gilgamesh replied.

Was that supposed to be an answer?

“Hakuno,” Enkidu was moving now, those green eyes on her as they climbed onto the seat with the two of them. Gilgamesh winced a bit, Hakuno shifting as the being climbed onto both their laps.

“Why am I the bottom here?”

“You handle being the bottom quite well,” Enkidu told him, smiling. “Hakuno is injured too. You are earning a lot of favors today.”

“I do enjoy favors, I suppose,” he relented, leaning his head against the two of them. Enkidu looked over at her and glanced down to her arm.

“We will see to that arm better later.”

“I want to know who that servant was that managed to injure me,” Hakuno countered. “She looked exactly like BB.”
“I saw BB,” Gilgamesh told her.

“Which makes me wonder how many others are running around looking and acting on BB’s behalf. If there’s too many, we may be in over our heads.”

“BB cannot fight against me,” Gilgamesh replied easily, holding the two of them close. “I managed to kill her before and I will kill her again. It does not matter how many times she decides to duplicate herself like the abomination that she is, I will slaughter her again and again. Her existence is an affront to mankind.”

“You should persuade the others to let me take care of the other problem of ours,” Enkidu purred. “The demented Cu Chulainn could use some taking care of. After what he did, I feel no particular sympathy.”

“Don’t hurt,” but her words were cut off.

“You may do as you please,” Gilgamesh replied easily. Those red eyes looked to her, silencing her. “In the meantime, we do things as I command. I have navigated us through the labyrinths before. I will do so again. We can leave the others here and-“

“We’re taking Ozymandias,” Hakuno pointed out. “And Medb.”

“You want to take the thot and the pharaoh with us?”

Enkidu looked away a little, laughing sheepishly. “I’d like to take them too. The pharaoh was good about ensuring I could get to Hakuno. He even provided healing energy to Hakuno through me. The BB lookalike had the ability to melt what she touched.”

“And I suppose taking Merlin, Waver, Nitocris, and Cu Caster are high in priorities too,” Gilgamesh tried.

Enkidu hummed, looking over the map. “There’s a lot of ground to cover. We’re at the outskirts of this place. It might be wiser, in a king’s view, to work from a more centralized point. The strong caster collection could probably be made useful since this woman created a labyrinth-“

“Enkidu gives me an idea,” Gilgamesh cut in. “I will need to confer with Caster, naturally. I think if BB can alter Chaldea, the five casters should be able to hold back the abilities that BB has and possibly be able to trace the energy back to its source. If they’re not in the dining hall, we can work from there.”

“You never cease to be an amazing king,” Enkidu replied, nodding at the man’s words.

“Do you think that the five casters will be enough?” Hakuno asked.

“We can’t use you to try to trace. If BB is using mages to power her labyrinth and her plans in general, having you attempt to connect or understand her power could mean providing the opportunity she needs to harm you further.”

“It would be easier to fight and keep more of my senses if I kept you close to me,” Enkidu offered. “I know before that we worked in the same way that you and I did earlier when you were injured. You provided mana from within and created those burning blooms as necessary.”

“That would be wise. Hakuno and I could take cover during onslaughts,” Gilgamesh nodded at the words, thinking more.

“What about the others?”

“Casters could take the walls,” Enkidu continued. “We put them three and two. Merlin and Cu Caster. Caster, Nitocris, and Waver on the other wall. That would balance out the power.”

“I’m almost insulted you think so little of my caster self,” Gilgamesh replied softly.

“Oh, I did not intend to say anything in that regard,” the being purred, leaning close to the man. Both of them were grinning, “I simply know you are not one for magic mumbo jumbo and staffs. You’re about brute force and power. I think the caster class only speaks towards the intelligence that I see in you. That we all see in you,” they added the last bit after a moment, glancing in her direction.

“You flatter me immensely, my friend,” Gilgamesh replied, nodding. “You are not wrong though. A caster out of me is something absurd. Were it not for his quick wit and his pursuit of knowledge, I would not be so keen on him continuing his existence.”

“As is fair,” Enkidu replied.

“As is fair.”

The two were talking circles around one another, but Hakuno turned her attention back to the map once again. They had the problem of Cu Berserker to think about. Wandering was all well and good. Ozymandias, Lancer, and Medb would be good support from all sides, but moving Cu Berserker was going to be a challenge. The beast was nothing more than a behemoth.

These two would no doubt kill him just to rid themselves of the trouble too.

Her arms wrapped around Enkidu’s waist a little more, noting the hand drifting through her hair as the two idiots continued to compliment one another.

The others were beginning to stir, Caster’s gaze flickering over to them as he yawned. The mage king moved to stand, walking over and staring at the three of them.

“Should I ask?”

Hakuno shook her head as the two others just stared at him in question.

Caster nodded a moment before he reached forward, pulling her lightly from the collection. Enkidu fell into Archer’s lap, wrapping their arms around his neck as Hakuno found her body pressed against Caster’s tightly.

“Caster-“

“Just for a moment,” he murmured, ignoring Archer’s complaints. “Allow it for a moment, Hakuno. It would seem that your pain and agony was done in part due to my negligence. Had I been more observant, more arrogant in my nature, I would not have lost you and Enkidu to the sands of time.”

He was remembering now too?

Was everyone to remember things far better than her?

When had she run into Gilgamesh?!

What had happened?

She pulled back, looking up at him. “I don’t remember any of that, but we have things to do.”

“We do. We have a mage to save and a world to keep put together here.” Caster looked over at the duo sitting. “What progress have we made in planning?”

“We’re using the casters to trace BB back to her source. We’re going to head towards the center of the facility. Hakuno wants to investigate the room by the dining hall and we need to get her food.”

“A valid need. The dining hall will provide the opportunity for us to have the best control, since the power is located just in the back kitchens. If we gain that territory, then we can simply systematically take circuits down temporarily. The caster sensing could definitely figure out if they are in a certain part of the building.” The mage king smirked, “I’m continuing to be impressed, Archer. You are almost as wise as myself.”

Enkidu smiled, turning their attention back to the map as Archer rolled his eyes.

“Caster, you can put me down,” Hakuno offered.

“I intend to hold you for a while longer.”

What had happened to just a moment?

Merlin was moving towards them now, looking between the four of them. “Ah, I see. So whom am I to curl up on?”

Enkidu almost held out his hands, finding them pinned by Archer.

“Don’t you dare,” the man growled.

“Merlin,” Hakuno looked over at the magician before the clay being could offer something that Archer really didn’t want to bother with. “Could you wake the others? I want to see about getting us moving before BB has any more time to plan.

“You are far too sweet to these servants,” Merlin cooed, turning and stomping his staff against the floor. “Come on! Let’s move! We have ground to cover!”

Groans accompanied the noise, the watchmen returning from their ends of the hallway area. The table and chair were slowly sinking back into the Gates of Babylon as Archer stood up, holding onto Enkidu. The clay being grabbed the map, looking over it once more before they shoved it into the golden armor that came to fruition on the king.

“Keep this for me,” the being told him.

Archer snorted.

Looking up at Caster, she could see he was already doing something similar to prepare. As were the others, now that she was looking around. Medb swung the passed out Berserker over her shoulder, smacking his ass for good measure as she grinned up at Cu Lancer.

The lancer rolled his eyes, spinning his spear onto his shoulder and looking down the hall.

“Let’s pick up the pace. We have ground to cover,” both Gilgamesh chastised. Enkidu simply grinned more.

“Hakuno, you may rest upon my back for this.”

“I can walk.”

“She’s got a bad arm,” Enkidu argued. The being hopped down, shaking their head and pulling her away from the Caster. “She’s best with me.”

Those eyes were looking at the clay being for a moment, seeming like there was something that he wanted to say. It was a different look than she had seen on his face before. More… morose?

What had happened, she wondered again.

Would she ever know?

Tonight she’d push the memory. She had mana. Perhaps if she concentrated more… or asked Merlin. Merlin seemed like he was proficient with magic. The man had gained the respect of Artoria. He was someone that Caster and Archer had been wary about.

The man didn’t seem to have any qualms about working with her and the others. He was technically her servant.

Yes, it’d probably be best to ask him to assist. He could stop the onslaught of memories if they became too much for her.

And then she’d finally understand what was going on with these three.

Archer’s anger, Enkidu’s protectiveness, and now Caster’s…

The man turned away as she watched him, beginning to walk ahead with Archer. Ozymandias and Cu Lancer took up the rear, leaving Enkidu, herself, Medb and her catch, and the casters to organize themselves amongst the center of their group.

Archer was talking quietly to Caster after a moment, initiating the conversation and shaking his head at something the caster told him. They both seemed unhappy about their conversation.

“They’re discussing BB,” Enkidu murmured.

“Hmm?”

“They’re talking about Archer’s dealings with BB. Caster is concerned about not being able to properly handle the woman and her friend who melts things with her touch. He wonders if setting up a base in the center is too obvious. He thinks perhaps allowing us to rayshift to a singularity would be more beneficial. You are already accustomed to- but Archer doesn’t want to lose ground. She already has Gudako and Gudako was powerful to an extent. The woman being possibly used as a battery for creating a new labyrinth and system for creating trouble and using Chaldea as the base point for this system would mean throwing the worlds all into terrible danger.”

“You don’t need to tell me anything more.” Hakuno smiled a little though. “Archer is right.”

“He’s quite a brilliant man, to be honest,” Enkidu offered.

“I know.”

“I do like inspiring him a little though. Leading him to good ideas is like being praised by the sunlight.”

Her eyes drifted up to the being, “I have a feeling that you did a lot of smooth talking in your time.”

“I have no idea what you mean.”

Liar. Hakuno smiled a little more, shifting only to feel her arm ache again. The being held her closer.

“Don’t hurt that arm.”

“You said Ozymandias helped heal it-“

“He did, but the stitching for the skin that Merlin crafted is formed from my clay. You shouldn’t jostle around too much to bother it.”

Was it really?

Hakuno glanced down, pulling back the cloth and blinking at the strange darkened material reaching across the pale skin of her shoulder. “We’re like twins.”

The being laughed, loudly, drawing the attention of the others as they moved. The tension rose a little from the front and the back.

“Or not-“

“Oh no. I like that. Twins.” The being beamed at the two frowning kings, nodding them to pay attention. Their eyes slowly drifted forward as Enkidu smirked down at her. “I don’t mind it. I didn’t get to do much caring for you. I suppose being considered a sibling to you is a great compliment, although I’m nothing more than a tool to an end.”

“You are important.”

The being hummed, their pace picking up a bit.

They stopped, Caster’s attention going to Archer.

Archer shook his head. “Let’s see how the casters manage this.”

“What’s wrong?” Waver asked.

Archer crossed his arms, motioning at the wall. “There’s a wall where a passageway should be. Since you casters are so very well talented in being able to combat other magic, then let’s see you all bring the wall back.”

“An unfair assessment of the talent of casters, but he has a point.” Caster motioned at the wall. “Merlin. Waver. If you both would do the honors of seeing about possibly destroying the blocked path long enough for us to pass, we should be able to reach the dining hall in a matter of a few minutes.”

“The path to the kitchens and dining hall is up there though,” Medb argued, motioning further down the hall.

“Impossible,” Caster replied.

“The Celt is right,” Ozymandias argued. “It’s right there.”

“The hall to the dining area is exactly one hundred and twenty two steps from the hallway we were just in, three hundred and sixty four if you include the hall to Archer’s chambers.” Caster motioned at the wall. “This is where the path should lead. Going down the hallway there would mean allowing ourselves the opportunity to be smashed between walls when the woman would correct her magic.”

“You’re trying too hard to be smart about this.” Medb moved ahead of them, heading to the hall. She motioned down the hall. “Look, right there is where we need to go. I can see the kitchens… actually, there seems to be someone standing in the doorway. I think it may be the king of knights.”

Archer looked over at Caster, earning a shake of the head.

“Do not go down that hall,” Caster warned.

She scoffed, waving them off a moment before she began to move. Her skirts disappeared for a moment before they heard the rumbling. Coding appeared along the walls, the space next to them becoming semi-visible as something began to crash.

Ozymandias and Waver went running, reaching into the hall a moment before they tugged the woman out.

Sans Berserker.

“A chrebair chuilig,” the woman screeched, slamming her fists against the wall.

Lancer and Cu Caster hissed at the words, eyes widening. They both moved closer to where the hallway should have been, looking more closely at the wall. Nitocris moved to the woman’s side, wincing at the look of the woman’s hair.

“I can fix this later for you,” she offered.

“Fix?” Medb’s expression darkened at the shorter hair she now sported in the back. “Adarc bó rodraige!”

“She has a bad tongue,” Cu Caster murmured.

“I’m not surprised,” the Lancer replied quietly, glancing at Waver.

“Merlin, let’s remove this wall. The sooner we are in the other hallway, the sooner we can be in the dining hall and preparing for more.

“I LOST MY DAMN MAN!” Medb roared at the wall, kicking it in outrage. “DO YOU KNOW I MADE THAT MAN? AND YOU THINK YOU CAN SIMPLY TAKE WHAT IS MINE? DO YOU EVEN FATHOM THE WOMAN YOU HAVE CROSSED! I SWEAR ON CONCHOBAR’S GRAVE, YOU WILL NOT LIVE TO SEE THE NEXT SUNRISE! I WILL SLAUGHTER YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU LOVE, YOU POT-BELLIED SPIDER! PREPARE ALL THE TRAPS YOU CAN! I WILL RIP YOUR THROAT AND SHOVE IT SO FAR UP YOUR-“

“Medb,” Ozymandias moved to wrap an arm around the woman. “Perhaps you can indulge us in a few moments of silence. We all have our own aspirations for the woman’s throat.” Those golden eyes were gleaming more. “You still have two Cu Chulainns at your side, a master who concerns herself with your wellbeing, and the opportunity to not only destroy your foes, but revel in their deaths through power and permissions unlimited. Personally, I know a few methods we could partake in to allow her to suffer for the rather inhumane tricks she has done.”

The woman looked up at him, pausing. “Oh?”

“Do you know the methods of mummification?”

The smile that came to that face was far too excited. Hakuno turned her face away, noting Gilgamesh Archer and Caster’s interest as Merlin and Waver focused on the wall. Their hands were against the wall, slowly building a hole in the wall.

Slowly, carefully, the hallway was coming into fruition. Slowly, they could begin to see the flooring and the doors.

Hakuno frowned. “They blocked the room next to the dining hall.”

“We’ll unblock it,” Enkidu murmured. They moved forward, crossing the threshold alongside Archer. Caster and the Cus followed. Slowly, their group was through, looking back at the casters as Merlin and Waver looked at one another.

“Jump?”

“I don’t see many options,” Waver replied.

Cu Caster moved forward. “I’ll hold the hole open.”

“We will,” Nitocris pointed out, shifting herself into place next to the man. “A pharaoh cannot let the others take part and not participate herself. It would be foolish to allow you all the fun.”

Merlin and Waver rolled their eyes, holding the hole open until the two were in place.

They leaped, finding the hole shrinking under the others’ control. They hissed, clothing burning from the walls of the hole as they went through. The two patting their robes and jacket, shaking their heads.

“We will need to plan more for that kind of thing.”

Hakuno looked back. “So, the question now is: Do we want to see about the room next to the dining hall or do we want to enter the dining hall?”

Archer and Caster moved forward, positioning themselves outside the doors to the dining hall. Ozymandias raised his staff, moving close.

Caster covered the button to open the doors, nodding to the two before he smacked it.

A set of swords flew out, but it was only the sound that they heard of the swords hitting the wall.

Light blinded the room, creating a roar of agony from the other room. The sound of Iskander and Artoria shouting could be heard.

“How fun, we found the others.” Enkidu moved forward, carrying her with them. She peeked up at the being as they yanked a sword from the wall. They smiled at the group writhing in the dining hall. “Hello, everyone. It’s a pleasure to see a couple of you have survived without a master. Shame there isn’t more.”

Artoria, Gawain, and Iskander looked blindly in their direction, trying to blink back the blindness.

“I suppose we’ll need to heal them,” Merlin offered. “Nitocris, Cu Caster, Waver. If you would not mind assisting my king of knights and friends.”

They entered the hall, Ramses and Archer laughing together as Artoria rested a hand to her forehead.

“I really hate their laughter,” the king of knights whined quietly.